Vail Daily editorial: A job well done
December 6, 2016
Vail looked a bit dowdy when Stan Zemler came to town in 2003. That look changed, and quickly.
Zemler, Vail's longtime town manager, announced last week he'll resign in March of 2017. No one has served longer in that often-controversial role. Zemler's departure means Vail will lose a big part of its stability over the past 13 years.
Ultimate power in Vail ultimately resides with its town council, but the cast of that group changes every two years, sometimes dramatically. That means it's up to the town's staff to continue projects, or simply remind newer members of decisions made by their predecessors.
In Vail — and most other towns in Colorado — the town manager is responsible for the staff. Successes and failures ultimately fall upon those executives. In Vail, there's been plenty of success.
Zemler started work when the "Vail Renaissance" was just beginning. Others laid the foundation for that combination of public improvements and private development that has transformed the town. But it was up to Zemler and the town's staff to build on that foundation. That work meant a lot of long meetings, both in public and in private, with staff and developers. The results are obvious.
While it's easy to look at Vail today as a big success, that success wasn't guaranteed. When the U.S. economy nose-dived in 2008, town officials, led by then-council member Kent Logan, decided to spend some of the town's reserves on a marketing push to keep people coming to town during the downturn.
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That move worked, and Vail's post-recession recovery came quickly.
Through tough times and (mostly) good times, Zemler has provided a steady hand, with both the staff and the constantly evolving council. Through his tenure, though, he hasn't really sought attention, and this piece is likely to bring a bit of furrow to his brow.
But Zemler has been a key figure — one of many, to be sure — in helping create the Vail we know today.
The town's next top executive has a very high bar to clear.
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