Vail Daily letter: Transparency needed in Vail
The last two bullet points addressed by the Vail Homeowners Association in its questions for consideration about the future of Vail had to do with various questions about governance/inclusivity, and community accessibility. Concerning the former, the following questions were raised:
• How to encourage a higher degree of collaboration among various factional interests?
• What projects should be addressed through public / private partnerships?
• What can be done to expand community involvement in decisions about Vail’s future?
• What can be done to increase voter participation in town of Vail elections, such as mail balloting?
• Is there a need for more transparency in town of Vail governance?
These are very difficult and sensitive questions to address — with the answers subject to wide variations in opinion. These issues are addressed on a continuing basis by the Vail Homeowners Association by monitoring reports of the proceedings of the monthly meetings of the Vail Economic Advisory Council. I believe there is a, perhaps understandable, tension between the town of Vail and Vail Resorts which don’t always share the same goals, but are forced to live together for their mutual benefit. Whatever one’s point of view, it is helpful to remember that without Vail Resorts (formerly Vail Associates), there would be no town of Vail.
Certainly, transparency should be a cornerstone of all government/citizen relationships, but is too often lacking. I suspect that some appearances of a lack of transparency arise from the “devil in the details.” One example is the overwhelmingly popular vote to use the long-disputed funds raised from tax revenue for the controversial, and four times voted down, conference center for the redevelopment of the Vail golf course clubhouse and athletic fields at Ford Park. I was still on the Vail Economic Advisory Council when that was discussed at length and endorsed by the council. It was a “no brainer.” However, subsequent, more detailed plans for the clubhouse led to the proposed relocation of one of the golf course greens near a residential area, to be replaced by paved parking for events at the clubhouse, which led to litigation, allegations of misrepresentation, misunderstanding, etc. I have no idea what was the ultimate resolution of those disputes. However, transparency and community inclusiveness were major issues.
Concerning community accessibility, it is much to the benefit of the town of Vail and to Vail Resorts to contribute to the financing of the Eagle County Airport and, perhaps, more importantly, to the subsidies of the various airlines which serve the airport. Subsidies are usually in the form of guaranteed revenue minimums which cost the guarantors nothing if the minimums are achieved.
For financing purposes, the airport authorities recently introduced, perhaps long overdue, paid parking at the Eagle County Airport and chose to implement one of the most inconvenient and difficult to use paid parking systems I have ever encountered. In lieu of the more common control gates for entry and exit, using date and time stamped tickets with cash and credit card payment options, the system has no gates, two obscure computer terminals inside the terminal which require memory of your license plate number, the date and time of your expected return and payment with a credit card. Of course, if you don’t have your license plate number committed to memory, you must return to your car to get it. If the date and time of your return is delayed for any reason, I’m not sure whether your car is towed away or if the county just forgoes the extra revenue. This appears to be a paid parking system “on the cheap” and subject to misuse, abuse, or avoidance by going to the more distant free parking areas.