Vail Daily column: Large changes ahead
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from a report by the Vail Homeowners Association board of directors. The association keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the Vail community. The electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at http://www.vail homeowners.com.
The town of Vail has launched what could be a new renaissance of development and infrastructure improvements throughout the next decade that could be transformative. The overall scope of this work is difficult to grasp because of the incremental way it is being rolled out. Some parts have already been adopted; others are works in progress, and still other parts are beginning.
Altogether, the stage is being set to add to Vail more than 1,000 middle class families, develop the frontage roads into a central boulevard, expand the town’s boundaries, make a number of infrastructure improvements, restore Gore Creek and perhaps even expands parking facilities. Included are increased densities that could change the character of neighborhoods.
Unlike the Billion Dollar Renaissance of the 2000s, there has been little fanfare, and the total scope of these endeavors is just now coming into focus. Much has been done out of view of any intensive public scrutiny or input. The price tag could be well in excess of $300 million, and unlike the earlier Renaissance, which was primarily funded by private investment, these plans are to be publicly funded by the taxpayers and residents of Vail.
Plans, already in place, include a $50 million housing plan to acquire 1,000 deed-restricted housing units and $95 million of transportation improvements. The housing plan is to be funded by, approximately, $20 million from existing funds and town budgets over the next two years with the remaining, approximately, $30 million to come from a seven-year property tax increase, which if further pursued by proponents, could be scheduled for the November ballot.
The transportation improvements are to be funded by $54 million from town revenues and the balance — $41 million — from a new Transportation Impact Fee that the town has been busily working on for the last several months. While details remain to be finalized, it appears that commercial developments will cumulatively be assessed, approximately, $20 million, and the remaining $21 million will come from fees on new residential construction, including most re-models that expand beyond their current size. The current plan is to vary the residential fee on the basis of square footage, which could result in a fee of $10,000 or more per home.
The town has also reactivated its Transportation Task Force, which could address an estimated $150 million in needed parking improvements. The Gore Creek $5.4 million rehabilitation is already underway. And, coming up later this year is consideration of the town’s Open Lands Plan and a sustainability evaluation. For many months, the town has been considering whether it should use its reevaluation of the Open Lands Plan to seek to acquire adjacent U.S. Forest Service land that could be used for future development. The sustainability evaluation appears, for now, to be largely focused on the environment, but if done correctly, should examine all aspects of town activities.
Some of this is needed and long overdue; some of it is ambitious, but other aspects need serious examination and even rejection. That will only happen if the curtains are pulled back and public scrutiny and input are the order of the day.
The Vail Homeowners Association board is Gail Ellis, president; Judith Berkowitz, secretary; Rob Ford, treasurer; and directors Jamie Duke, John Gorsuch, John Lohre, Andres Nevares, Trygve Myhren, Larry Stewart and Doug Tansill.
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