Vail Daily letter: Clubhouse risks | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily letter: Clubhouse risks

The town of Vail and the Vail Recreation District are not being straightforward with Vail taxpayers about the risks of starting the demolition of the existing golf clubhouse in early September and starting to build the new events center/golf clubhouse as soon as demolition is completed.

The homeowners along the Vail golf course have been in litigation since the town and VRD decided to incorporate an events center into the new clubhouse building. The homeowners have made repeated attempts to alert the Vail Town Council and Vail citizens to the dangers of starting construction before the Colorado Court of Appeals rules on the case. Oral arguments will be heard on Sept. 15 and the decision will follow a few months later.

Regardless of whether you support the homeowners, who will be subjected to 51 or more events of up to 160 people right next to their backyards every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from May to September unless they prevail in court, taxpayers need to be aware of what could transpire if the decision goes against the town and VRD. If the decision favors the homeowners, the town may have already spent a substantial portion of the cost of the project only to be ordered to tear it down, redesign and rebuild it as primarily a golf clubhouse. A great deal of taxpayer money will have been wasted and if the current $10.8 million budget isn't enough to cover all of the additional costs, you, the Vail taxpayer, could be on the hook for the additional dollars.

If the clubhouse construction is halted or delayed by the court, the golfers would go two or more seasons without a clubhouse instead of one season, and the golf cart barn would not be available for next summer. However, they might be glad to wait that extra year if it means they'll get an actual clubhouse with more space for golf-related activities and the same glorious view they currently have. The current design for the events center/clubhouse has less space for golf than the existing clubhouse and a view from the golfers' grill that will feature the driving range nets and the traffic on I-70 rather than the golf course and the Gore Range.

Officials from the town and the VRD have claimed that only the uses of the building and not its design are in litigation. They are absolutely mistaken in that belief and the Town Council is moving forward with full knowledge that they may face an injunction to undo the construction.

The town never misses an opportunity to place blame on the Sunburst homeowners for the delay and increased building costs due to the delay, but if the Town Council had respected the Pulis Covenant, the allowed uses of the Real Estate Transfer Tax, and the provisions of the Colorado Constitution in the first place, they could have finished building a terrific new clubhouse by now with more space devoted to golf and with the spectacular view of the Gore Range available to golfers rather than attendees of commercial events — and for a great deal less money than the $10.8 million budgeted for the events center.

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Time will tell how this debacle will turn out, but the hubris of the town and the VRD could have serious implications for Vail taxpayers.

Deborah Webster