| VailDaily.com

Vail initiates talks with Booth Heights developers to pursue an alternative path

VAIL — For more than two years, the Vail Town Council has been split — often sharply — on the fate of a 23.3-acre parcel in East Vail that came to be known as Booth Heights. There’s finally some consensus.

Vail Mayor Dave Chapin announced Thursday that the town has approached representatives from Vail Resorts and Triumph Development to explore alternatives to Booth Heights.

“I’m pleased to announce that all seven members of the Vail Town Council are committed to advancing our leadership in good faith to discuss alternatives to the Booth Heights development,” Chapin was quoted in a release. “As such, we have directed our town manager to meet with the development team to express our interest in presenting an alternative approach that would advance both our community’s housing and environmental stewardship goals.”

Controversy since Day One

Booth Heights has been controversial since Vail Resorts in 2017 first proposed rezoning the parcel. The council ultimately approved putting just more than 17 acres into the town’s natural area preservation zone district — one of the town’s most restrictive. The remaining 5.5 acres were put into the town’s housing zone district, which allows a mix of deed-restricted and free-market units.

Much of the controversy over the parcel centered on the fate of the bighorn sheep herd that winters in the vicinity. Much time and discussion about the parcel revolved around whether the herd could be preserved with what ultimately became a proposal for 61 units of rental and for-sale housing on the site.

The 2017 rezoning ordinance passed on a 5-2 vote, with council members Jen Mason and Kim Langmaid opposed.

Virtually every other vote was 4-3 — at both the council and Vail Planning and Environmental Commission levels.

A big step forward

Vail Town Manager Scott Robson said having a unanimous Vail Town Council behind the latest effort is a big step forward.

Robson said it’s essential for the council “to be in lock-step” to reflect the town’s desire to create more affordable and deed-restricted housing.

“I’ve been pleased over these past couple of weeks … to see that we really do have a collaborative, consolidated voice,” he said.

Beyond housing, Robson said it’s essential for the town to present a unified voice on environmental sustainability and other issues.

The decision to pursue alternatives to Booth Heights has come with the cooperation of Vail Resorts and Triumph Development. But it’s still uncertain just what alternatives might exist.

In 2018, the council — again on a split vote — agreed to spend $7,500 on a feasibility study for a 17.87-acre parcel just west of the Middle Creek Apartments.

That study found building rental housing on the site could be done — and with as many as 175 units — but it would be complicated, particularly regarding parking.

Robson said just having a feasibility study on that site doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a better option than any other.

“We’ll need feasibility studies on multiple properties” moving forward, Robson said. “We want to make sure we find the right fit.”

That right fit includes balancing units with parking, traffic volumes, geological issues, and wildlife preservation, he added.

Vail Local Housing Authority Chairman Steve Lindstrom said he’s pleased to see a united front from the council.

“Right now, the (community and council) is more divided than I’ve ever seen,” Lindstrom said. “There’s been consensus (on other big issues) in the past.”

Lindstrom added that an effort is needed to find a “win/win/win” solution for the community, Vail Resorts and the environment.

“If this all comes together, it’s in the spirit of how Vail has grown and progressed over the decades,” Lindstrom said. “Competing ideas and factions have come together … and come out with a great solution.”

In the release about the new initiative, Chapin asked the community to join the council in the effort to find alternatives to Booth Heights.

“Together, we can work to bring balance to our priorities and elevate our vision to be the premier international mountain resort community.”

Langmaid has fought the Booth Heights idea since the earliest days of the 2017 rezoning proposal. She said she’s happy to see the council united in the new effort.

“It’s very important,” she said. “That is the only way we’re going to get great things done in our community.”

Langmaid added that while the council has been divided on this issue, “I think we actually have more in common than people think. We all want what’s best for the community.” And, she added, the council is ready to “work among ourselves and our partners to find solutions that will work for the community.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com or 970-748-2930.

Battle Mountain soccer routs Littleton, history

EDWARDS — Call it the Great Exorcism.

Powered by yellow socks, and a whole lot of Dani Barajas, No. 1-ranked Battle Mountain started the 4A state playoffs with a 4-0 thrashing of Littleton on Saturday morning in Edwards. The Huskies will host Montrose on Tuesday. (The Indians beat Loveland, 2-1, on Saturday.)

Perhaps more importantly, Battle Mountain erased the ghosts who had been following them since last fall’s first-round 5-0 elimination at the hands of Kennedy,

Battle Mountain’s Ivan Solis keeps his eye on the ball against Littleton Saturday in Edwards. Battle Mountain plays again on Tuesday in the Round of 16.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

“Losing to Kennedy affected us,” senior Karsen Williams said. “It made us stronger to do better next year. It was talked about all season.”

Barajas had the hat trick and Leo Soto added the coup de grace with a brilliant free kick late, and, given the context of how last season ended, Saturday’s result produced a muted celebration. The Huskies feel that the grand celebration should come later this month.

In the meantime, they’re about smashing through goals — literally. Leading up to Saturday’s game, Battle Mountain players wrote down their goals on planks of wood and then chopped the boards with their hands. (This is soccer, after all.)

That included coach David Cope, whose board read, “2019 5,” as in five playoff games in 2019, not to mention a shout out to his favorite college soccer player at Southern Methodist University.

Playing “The Karate Kid” was a fun team-bonding experience, but also a good way to burn off the anxiety in the buildup to a much-anticipated playoff game.

“I think the playoffs bring that, and it’s OK to be feeling anxious. You just to embrace that,” said coach Cope, whom, we suppose is Mister Miyagi in the “Karate Kid” hypothetical. “Once you have that first tackle, that first pass, that first shot, you’ll be into the flow completely. It’s natural. Plus with the (snowstorm delay postponing games from Wednesday to Saturday), and Littleton had the same thing, it’s almost been 10 days since we last played. There’s going to be a little tension.”

Dani goes off

Nothing relieves a little tension like Barajas. If you haven’t noticed yet, the kid is really good at soccer.

Yes, he upped his season total to 22 goals, but he’s driven by the desire to return to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, the site of the state championship games.

Josh Keiser and Battle Mountain are in control all the way against Littleton on Saturday in Edwards. The Huskies won the playoff game, 4-0.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

“Freshman year, I remember making the finals and I want to make it again,” said now-senior Barajas. “And we want to win it.”

Barajas started things off in the 22nd minute with a ridiculous shot to the near-side post. It was a low-skipper toward the left corner and Lions keeper Logan McLoughlin had no chance.

While dominating the possession, the Huskies weren’t doing so on the scoreboard. As the minutes ticked away during the second half, it became nerve-wracking as just one counterattack would level the match and send, at least, the Huskies faithful into “Here we go again” syndrome.

“We just have to be patient,” Barajas said.

In fairness, the Huskies know the situation well and have found the extra goal or goals throughout the season in forging a 15-0-1 record.

Deliverance came in the 54th minute as Trevino Twiss and Barajas took down the Littleton defense. Twiss broke ankles on his run and had Barajas on his right. Out the ball went and Barajas is a stone-cold killer on finishing.

To make it a hat trick, Barajas cracked a shot from well outside the box in the 61st — speaking of finishing — to make it 3-0.  Soto iced it with a free-kick strike, whose spin rate would have had baseball analysts drooling.

Nice socks

Battle Mountain had a new touch to its kit on Saturday. Cope’s better half, Kathleen, liked the pink socks the team wore for breast-cancer awareness last month. In particular, she liked how the Huskies could see each other’s feet in contrast to their home black outfits.

So Garden Creations, Kathleen’s landscaping business, got the Huskies gold socks for their playoff run and hosiery is 1-0.

“Now we’re always listening to someone from Virginia,” David Cope joked about the Cavaliers college basketball team that went from first-round upset victim in 2018 to national champion in 2019.

In fairness, even before last year’s upset, coach Cope has always dreaded the first round more than most. As he did on Saturday, when his squads advance through the opener, he always says, “tidy” with a smile.

“I think in the long run, it’s more relief than jubilation,” Cope said. “Another thing with this group is that there’s a quiet sense of purpose. They’re interesting in that way. They are very business-like. I hope they’re having fun and enjoying it because the bar is set so high. We’re really proud of them.”