Vail Daily column: Vail’s master planning, creek rehab, financing and more
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.vailhomeowners.com.
• Master planning: Master planning is key to guiding sustainable growth. Special development district spot zoning, on the other hand, leads to uncontrolled political decisions about community direction. Because of spot-zoning abuses, in the early 2000s, Vail curtailed that practice in favor of master planning.
Now, special development districts may be ushering in another wave of spot zoning. Already in the wake of the Roost Lodge (Marriott) approval, a plan for a large six-story project on top of the Mountain View parking garage is being presented as an special development district, and other developers seem poised to try the same thing, without first amending existing master plans.
At the same time, special events in the center of town are causing significant noise issues, as promoters continue to seek to add more events to an already crowded calendar; there is no effective limit to on-mountain activities, and on-street frontage road parking is becoming the norm.
The Vail Homeowners Association believes these issues require attention from the town’s leaders and the development of comprehensive plans to manage Vail’s future for the benefit of all. To the extent that sustainability entails capital expenditures, it should be clearly spelled out. This will be a continuing focus of the Vail Homeowners Association’s advocacy.
• Gore Creek rehabilitation: Vail is also moving forward with a host of efforts to rehabilitate Gore Creek. So far, these efforts have been relatively inexpensive, but larger, more expensive actions — $5.4 million budget throughout five years — are in the offing.
New storm-water collection and filtration improvements to the East Interchange totaling $2.3 million are scheduled to begin this year. The cost of the project is split between the Colorado Department of Transportation ($700,000) and the town of Vail ($1.6 million). The town’s portion includes extensive landscape enhancements. No price tag, as yet, has been announced for the overall program, should these budgeted investments not be successful in correcting the water-quality problem.
• Financing: Taken all together, these plans could cost many hundreds of millions, much of it to be paid for by Vail taxpayers and residents and the rest to be funded by town revenues. The magnitude of these plans exceeds, many times, what has been Vail’s annual capital budget. And while Vail is, presently, in excellent financial condition, having recently retired the bonds on its parking structures, there is no guarantee that expansive commitments will not undermine its future.
So far, there has been no unified, comprehensive budget, making it difficult to judge the full implications of these plans. Making evaluation even more difficult is that much of this work is going to be done on a pay-as-you-go basis. Ordinarily, the cost of large-scale capital improvements is spread throughout decades by the use of bonds or other kinds of long-term financing.
Vail Homeowners Association believes financial prudence calls for the development of a five, 10 and 20-year capital improvement budget. It would not bind future Town Councils and could be changed as needed, but it would provide a pathway that would show the affordability of these kinds of plans.
What you can do: If these are matters that concern you, then get informed and become involved. Government responds to the public; silence only enables others with different agendas to act in your absence. If you are not already a member, then join the Vail Homeowners Association. Together, we will continue to shine a spotlight on these issues that concern everyone.
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.