VAIL HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION
Area of Golden Peak on which 75 acres of race training is to be developed.

Rebalancing Vail's Quality of Life
 

04/24/15

  

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Overview: The Town is making remarkable progress economically, but ongoing concerns remain about quality-of-life issues. How successful the community will be in addressing those concerns will be determined, in part, by the upcoming Town Council election in November.  Between now and the election, the Homeowners Association will initiate a dialogue about rebalancing the qualitative factors of the Vail Experience.  Factors the Association believes should be given consideration include governance/inclusivity, growth related congestion, environmental deterioration and community accessibility.  The decisions which shaped Vail's physical redevelopment have largely already been determined.  How to successfully fine tune decisions that address the sensitive balance between promoting tourism and building community remains an open question warranting public discussion.

 

Public and VRI Financials Strong:  Locally it appears that the Great Recession is in the rear view mirror.  According to the Town Financial Report for 2014 there was an unprecedented +20.8% increase in total revenues in 2014 over 2013 and sales tax receipts for this season are up 5.9% when compared with last year's winter season (November-February).  Vail Resorts reported resort EBITDA increased 32.2% for the second quarter of fiscal 2015 compared to the same period in the prior year resulting in a stir of activism at the Board level according to reports in the national media.

 

Golden Peak - SSCV Race Training Area Expansion:  The Ski and Snowboard Club Vail announced, in conjunction with Vail Resorts, that it has filed an application with the U.S. Forest Service that will add 75 acres of skiable terrain at the summit of Golden Peak that will be interconnected with its existing race training area.  The purpose is to provide more space to handle the club's growth in staff and students, which has occurred over the years.  The new area is designed to handle the club's early season race training program.  There is the potential that the Town may be requested to financially contribute to the race area expansion.  The expanded training area, which will include snowmaking capabilities, coincides with the proposed expansion of its clubhouse facilities.  Financing for the clubhouse is for the most part assured as the Town agreed to allow two residential units in the new club house building, the sale of which is to fund its redevelopment.  The SSCV also announced that it will see a change in its senior management at the end of the 2016 ski season.

 

Golf Clubhouse Redevelopment Issue:  On April 7th the Town Council extended the Planning and Environmental Commission (PEC) approval for the Golf Clubhouse project, which was about to expire, until 2017.  Also, the Town reported that the process of selecting a contractor remains underway.  Neighbors and others continue to raise concerns over the impacts on the neighborhood from the proposed event center.  Litigation by the neighbors remains ongoing and, if successful, could potentially cause the project to be reheard by the PEC.  The proposed event center has come into conflict with the surrounding residential neighborhood over congestion related issues such as inadequate parking, public safety and quality-of-life impacts.  With the upcoming council election in November, any change in council membership could mean a revisiting of the project, especially if construction has not yet commenced.  Even if construction were to occur, the courts could still curtail the event center function.

 

Looking for the promised 2015 World Alpine Championship post business bump.                      Don Salhi - Photo


 
World Alpine Championship:  According to a preliminary report, the effect of the 2015 World Alpine Championship on the Town of Vail sales tax collections for February 2015 will likely be down -0.9% from its budget projections, even though February sales tax collections increased +1.6% over the previous year.  The championship's primary sponsor, the Vail Valley Foundation, reports that according to their calculations visitor attendance far exceeded projections.  Expectations are for Vail to receive a bump in visitors and real estate sales over subsequent years resulting from the championship's television and social media coverage. 

 

Special Event Funding:  The funding of athletic, entertainment and cultural programs is an area of increasing concern.  This may find its way into the upcoming Council election as questions continue to circulate concerning the qualitative impact of an ever increasing number of special events, their funding by the Town and whether they materially improve the Town's finances and image.  There is also concern that the cost of these events may increasingly fall upon taxpayers as sources of philanthropic gifting and corporate sponsorship become less dependable.  The staging of certain types of high level sporting extravaganzaslike the Winter Olympics, are coming under increased scrutiny for untoward business practices which fail to deliver on promised longer-termed economic benefits.  In Vail, as the percentage of international property owners steadily increases; their participation in philanthropic gifting for cultural events is not on par with American owners.  The underlying reason is that for many international owners the government in their home country funds these types of activities.  If the declining funding trend comes about, the competition for public funding will bring the qualitative versus quantitative debate to the forefront of the Town's political discussion about its tourism economic development. 

 

Summer Public Parking:  The allocation of public parking spaces is becoming increasingly complicated as the multiplicity of venues in Ford Park seek to either accommodate or build up their patrons and participants' attendance.  Paid and pre-allocated patron parking during spectator events causes conflicts with daily park use.  Expanding the Town's scheduled shuttle bus service to the park appears to be one option that could offer some relief.   

 

Broadly viewed, continuing Vail's free summer parking will become an even more complex management challenge when tourism increases as new on-mountain tourist attractions begin operation.  Parking will likely be further compounded from the intensifying emphasis placed upon large crowd events held at open air venues and on streets throughout Vail's town center.  Because there are no parking requirements for street and open air events, they have exacerbated Vail's parking problems, leading to the question of whether paid public parking will become inevitable during the summer event season.

 

Vail Real Estate Sales:  While the Eagle County market continued to gain strength, the Town's Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT) took a -9.3% dip between the first of the year and February 25th as compared to the same period in 2014.  Local analysts, thus far, are at a loss to account for the anomaly.  A possible explanation is that certain segments of Vail's international real estate market, which anecdotally have been vigorous over the past year, may be undergoing a higher level of scrutiny.  Some foreign investors may well be choosing to make less eye-catching investments.  What has changed in recent times is the implementation of treaty agreements among some national governments that allow for more intensive oversight of international financial transactions.

 

Proposed Expansion of VVMC West Wing as viewed from near the Vail Public Library to the east along West Meadow Drive.

 

VVMC West Wing:  The approval process is reaching the final stage for the Vail Valley Medical Center West Wing expansion.  In general, the Master Plan, now approved, includes an enlargement of the West Wing to provide for the expansion of specialized clinic functions.  The future East Wing is to provide for the community's emergency care and supporting operational facilities, like parking, deliveries, administration and patient/visitor reception.  While the master planning concept has received approval, the details guaranteeing that it will be put into effect are being worked out through the Town's approval process for the expansion of the West Wing. 

 

The guarantees will be included in a Developer Improvement Agreement (DIA) which is currently under negotiation.  The sequencing of the Master Plan components leaves to outlying years most of the costly items required by the Town such as structured parking, public safety vehicular/pedestrian traffic improvements and affordable housing.  Still to be determined is the degree to which the Town will be able to compel performance of agreed upon developer improvements.

 

Changing Dynamic of Health Care in Eagle County:  The VVMC has enjoyed a singular position in providing health care in Eagle County since its inception in the 1960's.  Eagle and other Colorado mountain resort counties were ranked in a 2014 survey as having the highest health care insurance costs in the United States.  In reaction to the survey Kaiser Permanente, Colorado's largest nonprofit health plan, announced that it plans to expand coverage to mountain communities along the Interstate 70 corridor, an area where health care premiums are high.   In recent months, public officials announced plans for a 49,000 sq. ft. medical center in the nearby town of Avon to be built by a company specializing in the development of medical office buildings.  The tenants for the center are yet to be identified. 

 

The Town of Vail has been working for the better part of a decade to ensure that the VVMC retains its central focus in Vail, due in large part to the significant contribution to the local tourism economy of its specialized orthopedic and sport medicine clinics.  Meanwhile, a growing segment of Eagle County residents has argued that medical facilities serving the broader requirements of the local residents should be located further west, closer to local population centers that have grown to maturity in recent decades.  The Town of Vail's goal of maintaining predominance over health care in Eagle County may be eclipsed by factors well beyond either the Town or the VVMC's ability to control.

 

VVMC has steadfastly maintained its independence from being absorbed into a larger health care system.  There are those who worry, what will become of the Town's mandated development requirements should VVMC eventually be absorbed?  The quandary for the Town of Vail is whether to give the VVMC relief from costly development requirements that it has enforced on all other major developments, and if it does, should the taxpayers absorb the costs by taking on the responsibility to make these improvements.

 

Affordable Housing Report:  The Town is moving toward initiating the construction of between 30 and 50 units of deed restricted, owner occupied, affordable housing on its Chamonix site in West Vail near the new fire station.  The concept of using a portion of the Chamonix property to relocate the municipal office complex has been rejected.  A Town report provided a demographic profile of owner occupied affordable housing units.  The household profile is dominated by post-child-rearing unmarrieds with one cohabitant who is employed within the Town of Vail.  This data seems to indicate that Vail's inventory of owner-occupied subsidized housing is on a trajectory over the next decade to be inhabited primarily by retired local workers.  A side effect of an aging local population is that Vail may well have fewer children entering the Red Sandstone elementary school.  The Red Sandstone School is a symbol for many of the vitality of a growing local community.  The Town of Vail is looked to for financial and other forms of support to keep the school in operation. 

 

Mapping the Gore Creek Drainage:  Mapping will occur this summer to identify the storm water collection areas and the location of the Town of Vail's urban runoff system that flows into Gore Creek.  The mapping will more precisely locate sites where urban runoff is entering the stream.  The information gathered may result in a better knowledge of how pollutants are migrating into Gore Creek through surface runoff and underground seepage.  Once known, with systematic water quality monitoring, corrective improvements can be initiated that will restore the stream's aquatic habitat to healthy levels.  The cost to further improve the Vail's urban runoff system is the responsibility of the Town and its taxpayers, which could be partially offset with the potential participation of State and Federal authorities.  

 

Gore Creek Stream Tract Protections Legislated:  It is the intent of the Town to remove unauthorized private encroachments and restore the Gore Creek stream tract to its native condition.  The Town has initiated legislation that will specify which stream tract lands must comply with its order to remove unauthorized private encroachments from public lands.  Stream tracts were once owned by Vail Resorts and subsequently were conveyed to the Town of Vail in the 1990's.  Stream tract lands were established as part of subdivisions created by Vail Resorts that eventually became the Town of Vail.  There are protective covenants that limit the types of improvements that are allowed on these stream tracts.  Private uses of the stream tract occurred under VRI's administration.  Litigation is underway which alleges that representations were made that certain private property owners were allowed to use stream tract land adjacent to their property for their personal use.  Litigation over a variety of issues between property owners and the Town has become noteworthy in recent years. 

 

Restoring the pristine beauty and ecological purpose of Gore Creek.

 

 

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Production Credits

 

Content Editors:

Larry Stewart, Gail Galvin Ellis, PsyD

 

Copy Editing & Distribution:

Elizabeth Bailey, General Partner

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