Vail Daily column: Looking 50 years ahead
September 23, 2016
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.vailhomeowners.com.
One thing seems obvious — Vail needs to rethink its relationship with and dependence upon Vail Resorts for its future and prosperity. It may be that Vail continues to be the focus of Vail Resorts' plans, but it would be prudent to plan for the future in case that turns out not to be the case. To paraphrase, "Vail should trust but be prepared."
Vail is always going to be a resort community. Whether Vail continues to be the crown jewel of Vail Resorts' resorts, tourism is going to be the economic engine that drives Vail. And, much of that tourism is centered on the mountain. So one aspect of being prepared is to recognize the importance of the mountain and adopt policies that support its continued vitality. Yes, Vail Resorts calls the shots on the mountain but that doesn't mean that Vail as a community does not have a responsibility to take steps that will enhance the on-mountain experience for both visitors and residents alike.
There is much more to Vail than just the ski mountain. Vail enjoys an unsurpassed natural environment, from the beautiful surrounding mountains and forests to Gore Creek, and it has vibrant and varied cultural programs. These too are important elements of the "Vail experience" that need to be nurtured and maintained for the future.
And, there is also the basic community: Its diversity, infrastructure and economic health.
So how does Vail best position itself for the next 50 years? The Vail Homeowners Association suggests that Vail should plan for sustainability; that Vail should adopt policies that will maintain its community, culture and environment into the foreseeable future.
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A recent Vail Daily article posed the question: "Can Vail become a sustainable resort?" In a way, it was a rhetorical question because the answer is clearly yes, if there is political will and leadership to lead the way. The Vail Homeowners believes the better question is "Should Vail become a sustainable community?" And the answer is "Yes, it must," if Vail is to succeed during the next 50 years.
Fortunately, steps in that direction are already underway. The town of Vail, in conjunction with the Walking Mountains Science Center, is working on a plan to achieve designation as a Global Sustainable Resort. This is an outgrowth of the Actively Green campaign conducted during the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. Actively Green was a way for local businesses to obtain state certification for environmentally sound practices.
The new sustainability tourism effort is broader. It fosters adoption of "universal sustainable tourism practices." The focus of Walking Mountain Science Center and town of Vail effort, so far, seems to be primarily environmental: recycling, cleaning up Gore Creek, providing workforce housing to reduce transportation impacts and encouraging alternative energy use.
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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