Partnerships and collaboration in the areas of housing, environmental sustainability, parking, economy and public safety were key contributors in helping to elevate the town’s priority initiatives during 2018. For example, in partnership with the Vail Local Housing Authority, the town continued to make an impact on its housing goals with the acquisition of 106 new deed restrictions totaling $6.5 million of public and private investments through the Vail InDEED program. This included the purchase of 23 deed-restrictions at the newly-constructed 6 West Apartments in Edwards, which represents the town’s first of its kind regional housing collaboration. Also noteworthy during the year was announcement of Vail’s official certification as the first sustainable mountain resort destination in the U.S. and the first community in the world to be certified under the new Mountain Ideal Standard. The certifications were the result of a multi-year partnership between the Town of Vail, Walking Mountains Science Center, Sustainable Travel International, Vail Resorts, U.S. Forest Service and others, while marking the culmination of 56 years of leadership by the Vail community in progressive environmental conservation policies and programs. To address the need for additional public parking, a three-way partnership between the town, Eagle County Schools and Vail Resorts contributed to the opening of a new, four-level parking structure at Red Sandstone Elementary School in which the spaces will be utilized for both school and public use. A first-ever retreat between the Vail Town Council and executives from Vail Resorts identified areas where the two entities will be working together to enhance the guest experience and elevate Vail’s competitiveness. Events such as the Burton U.S. Snowboarding Championships, Colorado Classic, Bravo! Vail Music Festival as well as a Global Friendship exchange trip to Japan, served to showcase Vail to international audiences. Also of note was the involvement of Vail Fire in facilitating creation of the Mountain Area Mutual Aid Plan which assisted in the coordination of wildfire suppression efforts during the Lake Christine, Bocco, Buffalo, Two Elk and Golf Course fires throughout the region, and will serve to provide critical resources in the event of a wildfire in or near Vail. Other milestones included completion of the update to the Open Lands Plan, ongoing improvement in Gore Creek’s water quality, sponsorship of a wildlife forum which brought renewed focus on the health of the area’s wildlife, plus a kickoff to the Civic Area planning process that will help identify a future plan for the town’s public facilities in the heart of Vail.
Examples of the many other partnerships and accomplishments that can be attributed to the Town Council, staff and members of the community are detailed below:
Sales tax collections, a vital indicator of the town’s economy and providing 40 percent of the town’s annual revenues, rebounded during 2018, with collections through October of $22.3 million, up 6.9 percent from the prior year. Early in the year, sales tax continued to feel the impact of a low snow year, but picked up during the summer with growth of 25 percent, 18 percent and 17 percent in May, June and August, respectively. Year-to-date Real Estate Transfer Tax collections of $6.6 million through November were pacing 14.5 percent up from the prior year.
Thirty-three special events received support from the town in 2018 with allocations of $876,980 recommended by the Commission on Special Events and approved the by Town Council. The largest allocation, $84,790, was awarded to support the GoPro Mountain Games in June. New events highlighting the 2018 funded calendar included the Legacy Fighting Alliance mixed martial arts competition at Dobson Arena and the Vail Mountaineers Hockey Club Sportsmanship Tournament. Other notable events funded during the year included the Vail Summer Bluegrass Concert Series, Vail Holidays, Vail America Days, Vail Oktoberfest, Gourmet on Gore, Vail Kids Adventure Games, Vail Farmers’ Market and Art Show, Taste of Vail and Outlier Offroad Festival. Also funded were a full slate of athletic events including Vail Lacrosse Shootout, King of the Mountain Volleyball, Kick-It 3v3 Soccer and Vail Valley Soccer Club. Also, $151,500 in funding was awarded to programs in the education/enrichment category. In addition to the events funded by CSE, the Town Council allocated $1.1 million in economic development funds to support activities in the iconic event category, including Bravo! Vail, Burton US Open, Vail Jazz Festival, Vail Dance Festival and Hot Springs Summer Nights Concert Series. An additional $300,000 was awarded to Snow Days and $100,000 to Spring Back to Vail events.
Burton US Open
The 36th annual Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships saw some of the world’s greatest snowboarders again converge on Vail for intensive competition and family fun March 5-10. The town provided $490,000, an increase of $85,000 in sponsorship money for the sixth year to help bring the event to Vail. The event’s return on investment included $3.7 million in direct economic impact from attendees and impressive media impressions world-wide. As the year was coming to an end, the town, Burton Snowboards and Vail Mountain announced a three-year contract extension that will keep the event in Vail through 2021.
2018 Colorado Classic
Following months of planning and logistical coordination, Vail hosted two stages of the Colorado Classic on Aug. 16-17. The professional cycling events featured two days of men’s and women’s racing with a circuit race on day-one and time trial on day-two. The remaining two stages were held in Denver. The town supplied $110,000 in sponsorship funding as well as in-kind services of $109,000, while the Vail Local Marketing District provided an additional $200,000 in sponsorship. Lessons learned and future opportunities were discussed during several post-event review sessions with representatives from the Vail Valley Foundation which served as the local organizing committee. According to organizers, the event generated an estimated $2.5 million in economic impact which included worldwide televised media coverage reaching over 200 million households in 250 countries. Suggested adjustments for the possible return of the event in 2019 were presented to the Town Council which included a smaller race footprint, maintaining access to the parking structures, better alignment on event marketing and improved messaging on ease of access. As the year was coming to an end, a decision was made to reimagine a future cycling event in Vail independent of the Denver-based Colorado Classic.
The Welcome Centers provided more than 150,000 guests with useful information and assistance, a 50 percent increase over the prior year. The Lionshead Welcome Center was recently refurbished to better accommodate guests with more seating areas and workstations. The Welcome Centers participated in the Adopt a Trail Wildlife Ambassador Program to inform the public of critical seasonal wildlife closures and the importance of undisturbed winter habitat for wildlife. The Community Host program, with a volunteer force of 50 individuals, had over 45,000 guest interactions to further enhance the guest experience. In a joint effort with Vail Resorts to provide a seamless guest experience on busy days, the Community Host Program expanded its summer days of operation, from two to four days.
Forty-one new business licenses were processed by the town in 2018 including 15 new retail establishments, 8 new lodging/property management businesses, 10 food and beverage license and 8 in the “other” category.
Results of an independent audit of town financials for 2017 showed the town in a strong financial position. For the full year, government-wide revenue exceeded expenses by $6.2 million. Total reserves at the end of 2017 amounted to $71.9 million. The town has no debt for which it is responsible. Only the Vail Reinvestment Authority bonds, which are funded from incremental property tax collections within the Lionshead district, are outstanding with a balance of $8.8 million at the end of 2017.
Red Sandstone Parking Garage
Community leaders gathered in April to celebrate a three-way partnership that led to the groundbreaking and construction of the Red Sandstone parking garage. Funding for the $15 million project was supplied by the Eagle County School District ($1.5 million), Vail Resorts ($4.3 million) and the Vail Reinvestment Authority tax increment financing funds ($9.2 million). The four-level garage features 160 parking spaces, public restrooms, solar photovoltaic technology and will also include a public art piece involving students from the school. The garage provides 120 spaces for employee permit parking (Red Pass) when school is in session and access to all 160 spaces during weekends and other non-school times. Construction was coordinated to coincide with renovations of the school building following voter approval of a district wide bond issue in 2016. The lower levels of the garage opened to qualified parking pass holders in December with the school renovation to be completed in the new year.
Construction got underway during the summer on the new Solar Vail Apartments. The apartments are an example of a collaborative public-private partnership between the Town of Vail and Sonnenalp Properties to provide 65 new studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments. As a result of the collaboration, 100 percent of the new homes are to be deed-restricted and occupied by residents of Vail, with 25 percent of the homes intentionally set aside for employees of Vail businesses other than the Sonnenalp Hotel. The terms of the deal were negotiated in 2017 and the Town invested $3.2 million of housing mitigation funds collected from the private sector. The new homes are scheduled to be completed in time for the 2019-2020 ski season.
Slifer Square Repair Project/Covered Bridge
The first phase of this project was completed during the spring and fall which involved replacement of existing snowmelt mains, improved storm water quality, removal and replacement of heated pavers associated with the utility work as well as pavement replacement on Meadow Drive. A second phase will involve renovation of Slifer fountain and will be scheduled for April through June 2019.
Vail Transit Stop Improvement
Two new bus stops were constructed at the Vail Village and Lionshead transit centers adjacent to South Frontage Road. The Vail Village Transit Center bus stop adds capacity with two new bus bays, while the Lionshead bus stop has added capacity with a new westbound stop and express in front of the Lionshead parking structure entry.
Staub Park Improvements
Improvements to this pocket park included replacement of stairs and a retaining wall, plus irrigation and landscaping. The park is located at 371 East Gore Creek Drive.
Park Safety Improvements & Maintenance
Pirateship Park was closed for a time during the spring while crews reconstructed a stairway. In Lionshead, the play structures at Sunbird Park received maintenance work and several wood play structures were replaced.
Gore Valley Trail Reconstruction
Gore Valley Trail between Donovan Park and the West Vail Conoco was reconstructed.
East Vail Interchange Water Quality and Landscape Improvements
This project has included installation of drainage improvements, water quality vaults and snow storage improvements. Landscape improvements are to continue in the spring 2019.
Vail Nature Center
A temporary yurt was added to the Vail Nature Center grounds at Ford Park and was used as the headquarters for summer programming while consultants completed a “needfinding” research project to help determine future considerations, including how to address structural and environmental deficiencies within the existing Nature Center building. The research identified four components the Nature Center should embrace in carrying out its mission which is to be “a place to educate people to value, protect, & live gracefully with nature.” The four components include: 1) sharing the local story of people in nature to motivate stewardship; 2) serve all people, inclusively, to broaden the impact; 3) respect the history while moving into the future to keep the place grounded yet relevant; and 4) actively support learning as the primary goal. Architects and designers began the process of developing concepts for long-term improvements for the Vail Nature Center that will be implemented over the next 2 to 3 years. These concepts are to be presented for public discussion in the spring of 2019. In 2019 management responsibility of the Vail Nature Center will transfer from the Vail Recreation District to the Town of Vail. Walking Mountains Science Center will continue to staff the Nature Center and offer educational and outdoor programming.
Open Lands Plan Update
An update to the 1994 Comprehensive Open Lands Plan was adopted by the Town Council in October following an extensive public review process. The review resulted in council-directed refinements on the topics of environmentally sensitive lands, town land and use of lands and trails. The most significant modifications included removal of recommendations for several trails, including the Vail trail extension, to avoid impacting wildlife habitat. In addition, the plan highlights the need to manage and monitor lands for biodiversity and the protection of wildlife – considerations that were identified by stakeholders and highlighted during a community wildlife forum hosted by the town. The plan also identifies parcels with potential for workforce housing development and community connectivity.
Civic Area Plan
In July, the town issued a request for proposals to hire a qualified team with expertise in citizen engagement, urban planning and urban design to lead a planning process for the civic area plan. A multi-disciplinary Colorado-based consultant group was selected to guide the process. The team, comprised of 4240 Architects, Braun Associations, Inc., Russell Mills Studio and Trestle Strategy Group, kicked off the planning process in December with a series of stakeholder meetings and the launch of an online tool, EngageVail.com, to collect community feedback. The Civic Area study will identify opportunities for a number of prominent town sites encompassing a 10-acre area to include the Lionshead Parking and Transportation Center, charter bus lot, Dobson Ice Arena, Vail Public Library, Vail Municipal Building complex, as well as sections of Gore Creek that traverse the area.
In November, the Town Council approved an ordinance adopting the 2018 editions of the International Codes. All projects submitted after Jan. 1, 2019 will be required to be designed and constructed to these new codes.
New educational opportunities for the building community at-large were introduced by the town’s Building Division. The Contractor/Designer Educational Seminar Series seminars are now held quarterly and cover a wide range of topics related to the design and construction of structures.
Summer parking operations included the addition of a $25 overnight fee structure for the Vail Village and Lionshead parking structures. The new overnight fee was implemented to help increase daytime capacity in the structures and reduce overflow parking on the frontage road. Allowances were made for free overnight parking for guests of nearby lodges with on-site parking limitations as well as employee overnight shift-work. Daytime parking remained free. The program resulted in an average reduction of overnight stays.
Bus Service Additions
Additional bus service was provided on the East Vail route during the summer to accommodate evening events at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. The added service was intended to provide incentives for increased ridership and to create more capacity in the parking structures.
Regulations were amended by the Town Council to allow the short-term sale of private parking spaces to maximize available parking spaces within the town. The amendments resulted in the launch of parkvail.com by a local entrepreneur.
After increasing winter parking rates for the first time in 10 years during the 2017-2018 season, as well as pricing adjustments for season pass holders, there were no additional price increases for the 2018-2019 season. Town Council members agreed with recommendations forwarded by the Parking & Transportation Task Force in establishing rates and policies for 2018-2019. This included a return to two hours of free parking in the structures and creation of a new $450 Red Pass for access to the Red Sandstone parking garage for employee parking.
West Vail Pass Auxiliary Lanes
The town assisted the Colorado Department of Transportation in facilitating meetings and information related to an environmental assessment study to improve safety and operations on Interstate 70 at Vail Pass. The study has been evaluating the potential impacts for eastbound and westbound auxiliary lanes from the East Vail exit to the Vail Pass rest area on I-70. Final design and construction are anticipated as funding becomes available.
Sandstone Underpass Traffic Counts
Traffic counts during the 2017-18 holiday season at the Sandstone Underpass showed an average daily volume of 3,500 vehicles with a peak hour volume of approximately 350 vehicles. Each vehicle trip was a direct reduction in the number of vehicles that would have normally used the Vail Town Center or West Vail interchange underpasses. The peak hour volume represents approximately 44 percent, or almost half, of the design volume that is projected to occur in the year 2040.
Designated routes and requirements used to authorize guided Segway tours were established to address various safety concerns. The new regulations, adopted on a one-year trial basis, are intended to reduce conflicts between Segway riders, pedestrians and other users of recreational trails, paths and sidewalks.
Regulations that allow the use of electronic assisted bicycles on designated paved recreational trails was adopted by the Town Council to provide continuity between jurisdictions and to more closely follow a new Colorado state law. E-bikes continue to be prohibited on soft-surface trails.
The town voluntarily reduced its water consumption during the summer due to low stream flows. Turf grass irrigation in most of the town’s parks and green spaces was reduced by approximately 40 percent after the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District asked its larger single consumers to assist in reducing watering schedules.
Pilot Traffic Calming
A traffic calming pilot program was implemented on a few residential streets in West Vail to evaluate the viability of permanently installing speed humps and shoulder striping in an effort to slow traffic and provide safe areas for pedestrians to walk. Based on the results, Council directed staff to develop a plan using both shoulder striping and portable speed radar trailers to implement traffic calming on residential streets that have the most pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
New Housing Department
To support the Town Council’s focus on housing, an organizational restructuring took place at the beginning of the year in which a new Housing Department was created. George Ruther, who had served as the town’s long-time community development director, was selected to fill the newly created position of housing director. Lynne Campbell transitioned in her role from the office manager of the Community Development Department to housing coordinator. The new department was created to support the town’s vision to be the premier international resort community and respond to citizen input regarding the need to increase the availability of the housing opportunities with the community.
Revisions to Housing Lottery
The town’s housing lottery process was revised to address concerns expressed by previous participants about the effectiveness, appropriateness and fairness of the annual selection process which had been in place since 1999. The revisions included implementation of a true lottery drawing process which affords all qualified participants a chance of being selected as well as replacing the annual master housing list process with individual lotteries held for each available deed-restricted home and removing the household family size requirement.
Vail Local Housing Authority
The Vail Local Housing Authority realized many accomplishments in 2018 including Implementation of the Vail InDEED program with funding authorized by the Town Council. The partnership efforts resulted in acquisition of 106 new deed-restrictions on behalf of the town.
Housing Policy Statements
In collaboration with the Vail Local Housing Authority, the Town Council took steps to put on paper how it intends to respond to the growing need for housing and future housing programs and initiatives. In doing so, the Town Council adopted a resolution outlining its 2018 Housing Policy Statements. The ten policy statements prescribe a framework for decision-making and are intended to articulate the approaches the town will take to realize its vision, achieve its housing goal and address the most critical issue facing the Vail community. The town’s housing goal is to acquire 1,000 new deed-restrictions by the year 2027. Since adoption of the Vail Housing 2027 Strategic Plan in 2017, the town has acquired 138 deed-restrictions with an additional 1,176 deed-restrictions entitled through the town’s development review process.
A deed-restricted Chamonix Vail home was resold during a lottery process in October. The 1,113 square feet, 2-bedroom, 2-bath home was sold to a qualified buyer for $407,301. The townhome was the first unit to be resold at the development following completion in February 2018. Chamonix Vail homes have a resale price appreciation cap of 1.5 percent per annum plus an approved capital improvement.
In November, a lottery was held for the resale of a Red Sandstone Creek condominium with priority given to a Town of Vail critical employee. The 3-bedroom, 2-bath, plus 1-car garage home was sold for $323,197.
In December, the Town Council authorized the purchase of a 1-bedroom, 1-bath 644 square foot condominium at Vail East Lodging, located at 4133 Spruce Way. The purchase price was $309,500. The town was to use the property to provide a home for a Town of Vail employee and their family.
Similarly, in May, the Town Council authorized the purchase of a 1-bedroom, 1-bath 675 square foot condominium at the Altair Vail Inn, located at 4192 Spruce Way. The purchase price was $260,000. The town is currently leasing the property to a Town of Vail employee with the intent to sell the property to a Town of Vail employee in the future.
Vail’s success with its innovative and results-oriented housing initiatives prompted invitations to share lessons learned and best practices with other resort destination communities. In October, Housing Director George Ruther traveled to the Lake Tahoe/Truckee region of California as a keynote speaker on delivering on housing in mountain resort communities. Key remarks of the presentation focused on the importance of thinking differently about solutions to the growing need for housing, investing in the community, reliance on public-private partnerships, the role of private sector, and approaching housing as infrastructure in resort communities. Over the course of the three-day event more than 350 business leaders, public agency representatives, elected officials, news media, citizen action groups and community members were in attendance. Similar presentations were also shared with the Colorado Association of Ski Towns and its many member organizations, Urban Land Use Institute, Colorado Housing NOW!, Vail Symposium and the Combined Summit Housing Authority.
Best of Top 100 Sustainable Destinations
Vail gained international recognition for its collective sustainability efforts in March by being named the Best of the Top 100 Sustainable Destinations. A delegation from Vail traveled to Europe to accept the award in the Best of the Americas category, which was presented in partnership with ITB Berlin, the world leading travel trade show. The award is presented by Green Destinations, a non-profit organization for sustainable tourism.
First Sustainable Mountain Resort Destination in the U.S.
In July, Vail received its official certification as the first sustainable mountain resort destination in the U.S. and the only community certified in the world under the newly created Mountain Ideal Standard. The certifications by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council were the result of a multi-year partnership between the town, Walking Mountains Science Center, Sustainable Travel International, Vail Resorts, U.S. Forest Service and others. It marks the culmination of 56 years of leadership by the Vail community in progressive environment conservation policies and programs.
Business Recycling Challenge
A community business recycling challenge was launched by the environmental sustainability office during the year. The seven participating businesses averaged a 57 percent recycling rate following the four-week challenge, improving from a 49 percent average baseline before the competition began. Participants included Manor Vail, McNeil Property Management, Mountain Standard, Steadman Clinic, Sweet Basil, Vail Mountain School and Vail Spa Condominiums. McNeil Property Management was the overall challenge winner with a final recycling rate of 84 percent and an average rate of 81 percent.
Community Recycling Report
An annual update prepared by the town’s environmental sustainability office showed a 22 percent combined community recycling rate. The figure is calculated as a percentage of the total amount of municipal solid waste collected within the town. Benchmark comparisons include a rate of 14.7 percent recorded for all of Eagle County in 2010. The national average is 34 percent. Prior to implementation of Vail’s community-wide recycling ordinance in 2014, the town’s baseline research indicated a residential recycling rate of just 9 percent and a commercial recycling rate of 19 percent in 2010. At 22 percent, the town is close to achieving its 10-year goal.
Community Wildlife Forum
On Jan. 18, the town and Vail Symposium invited the community to attend a panel discussion with wildlife biologists on the history and state of wildlife in the Gore Creek Valley. The panel featured wildlife biologists Bill Andree of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Rick Thompson of Western Ecosystems Inc., Kelly Colfer of Western Bionomics LLC and Jen Austin of the U.S. Forest Service. They presented information on the current status of wildlife populations, how recreation and development impacts can affect wildlife, mitigation best practices and habitat restoration success stories, the National Environmental Policy Act process and recent trends and issues that may influence wildlife in the future. The forum was pivotal in shaping the update to the Comprehensive Open Lands Plan.
Seasonal Trail Closures
The town assisted with installation of metal gates at nearby trailheads to support increased efforts to raise awareness about seasonal trail closures which are used to protect elk calving areas and mule deer migration. Several town employees also participated in a new ambassador program sponsored by the Vail Valley Mountain Bike Association, Eagle County Adopt-A-Trail program and the U.S. Forest Service in which volunteers were trained to further assist in educating users about the importance of the closures and proper trail etiquette.
The town partnered with Eagle River Watershed Council to complete a riparian restoration project at Cedar Point Townhomes during the year. The effort to stabilize and revegetate streambanks was the first completed through the public-private cost-share program known as Project Re-Wild. Thanks to grants and volunteers from ERWC, and design funds from the town, this effort to restore important creek-side habitat occurred at no cost to the HOA or homeowners. Several other creek-side property owners throughout the town received technical and design funding and assistance from the town to regain eroded property and restore their riparian area.
Gore Creek Test Samples
Gore Creek has been listed as “impaired” since 2012 for failing to meet state standards for aquatic life. As a result of community efforts to Restore the Gore, samples collected in 2016 and 2017 showed improvements. In 2015, six of the seven locations sampled failed to meet state standards. In 2016 and 2017, only three of those sites failed to meet state standards. Improvements can be attributed to reductions in pesticide use by Town of Vail and private landscapers, stormwater filtration projects and expansion of riparian (streamside) vegetation.
Through the EnergySmart Colorado partnership, the town offered an incentive program to Vail residents and business owners for energy efficiency upgrades. Administered by Walking Mountains Science Center, EnergySmart staff provided free on-site energy audits and double rebates for energy efficiency upgrades within Vail. Participants were provided access to a database of local contractors who specialize in energy efficiency, technical assistance and guidance on obtaining all local rebates. Depending on the needs of the home or business, eligible upgrades included new HVAC equipment, an Energy STAR refrigerator, insulation and air sealing, LED lighting and programmable thermostats. By early December, 35 audits and 18 rebates had been provided with estimated greenhouse gas emissions reductions of 410 metric tons and about $9,000 savings to the community annually.
Electric Bus Demonstrations
The town hosted a series of electric bus demonstrations during the year as manufacturers from three companies tested their vehicles on Vail’s in-town bus route. The demonstrations allowed bus drivers and mechanics a chance to train and provide important feedback as the town begins a competitive procurement process for the conversion to new battery-electric buses by 2020.
Regional Electric Car Purchase
Vail joined Garfield Clean Energy and 10 other partners in offering a regional group buy incentive program providing discounts for electric car buyers. With four participating dealers, the 90-day campaign resulted in the purchase of 38 electric vehicles in the region, with eight being purchased by Eagle County residents. In addition, electric vehicle charging capacity in the region was enhanced by 437 percent between 2016 and 2018. The county went from eight public stations in 2016 to 43 public stations in 2018. Twenty-seven of those stations were installed in 2018.
Lunch with the Locals
A series of Lunch and Learn sessions was hosted by the town’s environmental sustainability team throughout the year to raise community awareness on topics such as stream ecology, aquatic health, riparian buffers, invasive weeds and more. This was the third year of the free sessions, which serves as a platform to spread the word about the Gore Creek Strategic Action Plan and the small changes residents can make to positively affect the health of the creek together.
Sustainable landscaping practices were presented during a free workshop in April, which continued a series of collaborative activities, introduced as part of the Restore the Gore Strategic Action Plan. The workshop was attended by landscape contractors, commercial applicators, designers, architects and property managers.
Climate Action Collaborative
The town continued to be an active participant in the Climate Action Plan for the Eagle County community. Through technical working groups, the CAC stakeholders launched an education campaign based on an extensive community survey, a waste wizard app to easily access recycling information, and began to identify opportunities in the renewable energy, building and transportation sectors to reduce emissions. The Collaborative is a group of local governments, businesses, schools, special districts and nonprofits that implement recommendations of the Climate Action Plan for the Eagle County Community. The plan recommends county wide greenhouse gas emission reduction targets of 25 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050 from the Eagle County 2014 baseline inventory.
Storm Drain Art
Six artists were commissioned to create original works for year-two of the town’s popular storm drain art project. The illustrations, which were displayed next to selected storm drains, depicted Colorado wildlife species that live in or near Gore Creek and were used to provide awareness about storm drains and promote the health of Gore Creek.
Ten calls were made to the 24-hour hotline, 970-476-GORE, during the year to report spills and illegal dumping on Gore Creek. The anonymous calls resulted in several interventions where code enforcement and environmental staff members were able to prevent pesticides, paint, grease, drywall dust, and carpet cleaning fluid from reaching Gore Creek.
Town Clean Up
The town’s annual clean up activities included a spring cleaning blitz which featured a large item residential pick up, a free collection event for hard to recycle items and the community wide clean up on April 29 in which community members participated. The town again donated $25 per volunteer with proceeds donated to local non-profits. Over 27,254 pounds of e-waste, household hazardous waste, clothing and paper shredding was collected at the hard to recycle collection event.
Paper Bag Fees
The town’s “Kick the Bag Habit” program has resulted in a 90 percent reduction in the use of single-use bags at community grocery stores. Prior to the program, approximately 4 million plastic bags were distributed annually. Currently, stores are averaging the distribution of 300,000 locally recyclable paper bags through two years of the program. The town has been able to add additional collection events for hard to recycle items such as e-waste, paper shredding and household hazardous waste through funding from paper bag fees.
The most recent hauler reports show that the community has achieved a 23 percent recycling rate through the fall of 2018. This is up from 20 percent in 2015. This is compared to the national average of 34.5 percent. It was also estimated that about 70 percent of residential properties were participating in curbside recycling, 95 percent of the multi-family developments and 90 percent of the commercial sector. The goal of ongoing education efforts is to achieve 100 percent recycling participation in the community and surpass the national average recycling rate. It is expected that this rate will improve with continued education on what can and cannot be recycled. Common contaminants, such as coffee cups, films plastic, gift wrapping paper, tissue paper and Styrofoam are important to leave out of recycling bins, it is also important to remember that recyclables should be loose and free in the cans for pickup and not bagged. The Town of Vail began working on a partnership with Vail Honeywagon to offer a residential compost drop site in the community to provide additional opportunities for waste diversion.
Trees for Vail
The town sponsored the distribution and giveaway of 100 native trees and shrubs in June as part of its annual Trees for Vail program. Reinstated in 2009, Trees for Vail has included volunteer planting projects as well as the free public giveaway to residents.
America Recycles Day
In recognition of America Recycles Day on Nov. 15, the town sponsored a collection event to encourage waste reduction and recycling. This included a free electronics recycling and paper shredding event. Nearly 10,000 pounds of e-waste was safely recycled in partnership with Blue Star Recyclers and 1,840 pounds of shredded paper were properly recycled by Alliance Moving Systems through this event, which was funded through the “Kick the Bag Habit” program.
The eighth annual Sole Power Challenge, a free green commuting challenge offered to the entire Eagle Valley and facilitated by the Town of Vail saw 267 members, an 18 percent increase in participation from 2017. They logged over 46,500 miles in their daily commuting activities, which included cycling, walking, skating and other non-motorized travel. Their efforts prevented over 42,700 pounds of carbon from entering the atmosphere. Participants had the chance to win over $8,000 worth of prizes donated by generous community partners.
New Compost Service
The town partnered with Vail Honeywagon to bring residential and commercial compost to the community. The residential drop site has the capacity for up to 30 customers with the opportunity to expand the program in the future. There is a modest monthly fee to participate. Commercial route service, which had been operating on a small scale as a pilot program, is now available to all commercial businesses in the community.
Fire & Emergency Services Calls
Vail Fire and Emergency Services responded to 1,923 calls for service in 2018. This included 66 fires of various types, which consisted of 17 vehicle fires, 18 wildland fires, 29 structure fires and 2 miscellaneous fires. The remainder of the calls for service included 48 physical rescues, 693 emergency medical incidents (including vehicle accidents), 532 false alarms, 74 hazardous materials incidents, 6 other hazardous conditions, 188 service calls and 316 other calls for service. Vail Fire and Emergency Services also responded to calls for assistance out of Vail 216 times. Of the responses outside the Town of Vail, 125 were to the Vail Pass area. These responses are provided as part of an intergovernmental agreement with Eagle County.
Fire crews responded to report of smoke in a unit at 4342 Spruce Way in East Vail at 4:14 a.m. on Jan. 1. Occupants were awakened by an activated smoke detector. This incident served as a good reminder to have a working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home. There were no major loss structure fires in 2018. Combustible items being placed too close to heat sources continues to be a leading cause of structure fires in Vail.
Wildfire responses began early during the year when Vail Fire assisted neighboring fire districts with a fast-moving fire on Highway 6 near the Eagle River Village Mobile Home Park in Edwards. The April 1 fire was reflective of new messaging communicated to the community – replacing the term “fire season” with “fire year.” The town hired a 6-member wildfire crew to supplement its resources with these employees working from mid-May to October.
Community Wildfire Protection Plan
Residential and commercial property owners gathered at an open house in September to assist the Fire Department with the planning process in the development of a Community Wildfire Protection Plan for Vail. The draft plan includes an assessment of strategies, including forest thinning and reducing the ignitability of buildings that will be used to prioritize future wildfire mitigation efforts. The community outreach also included an online survey that was used to collect additional feedback. The plan will be ready for final review and potential adoption by spring 2019.
Property owners took part in another season of free chipping services provided by Vail Fire. Residents were also encouraged to contact the department with questions about defensible space or measures they could take to help protect their property from the threat of wildfire.
Fireworks Cancelled on July 4th
After careful consideration, the town joined other communities across the state in cancelling its professional fireworks display on the Fourth of July due to dry and windy conditions. The decision followed previous cancellations by the town in 2012, 2006, 2002 and 1998.
Residents and guests were asked to familiarize themselves with provisions of various stages of fire restrictions during the summer. Relatively early, Stage 2 restrictions were implemented. Stage 2 restrictions prohibit any open fire, including campfires, smoking and other activities that increase the risk for wildfire.
Wildfire Season Recap
The 2018 wildfire season was very active across the United States. Vail Fire supported fire suppression efforts locally, regionally and throughout the west. Within our region, Vail Fire played an important role in the Lake Christine, Bocco, Buffalo, Two Elk and Golf Course fires. Much of this support was the direct result of the implementation of the Mountain Area Mutual Aid Plan, which was spearheaded by Vail Fire staff. Locally, there were an unusually large number of wildland fires, fortunately all were quickly controlled. In addition to these incidents, Vail Fire provided support to significant fires 19 times for a total of 383 person-days. Costs associated with these incidents were fully reimbursed and staffing within the Town of Vail was maintained throughout the summer.
Vail Fire Community Open House
Vail Fire sponsored an Open House at the West Vail Fire Station in October to celebrate National Fire Prevention Week. Activities included station tours, informative handouts and giveaways. This year’s theme was: “Look. Listen. Learn.”
Police responded to nearly 35,250 calls for service, wrote approximately 1,500 incident reports and 370 traffic crash reports during the year. Officers arrested or summonsed nearly 550 people, issued citations to about 600 people and gave warnings to nearly 1,050 people for traffic and code violations. Detectives managed 118 new cases in 2018 while also seeing existing cases through adjudication. The department’s clearance rate for crimes involving theft, burglary, robbery, aggravated assault, motor vehicle theft and arson reached 17 percent.
Police arrested two men in March suspected of stealing in excess of $20,000 worth of merchandise from area retailers. The men were later charged with 2nd Degree Burglary. The case is still pending.
A 31-year-old woman was charged with false reporting after she was discovered in a dumpster in the Sandstone neighborhood in March. The woman initially told police she had been kidnapped.
Fatal Traffic Crash
In October, police investigated a fatal motor vehicle crash that occurred in the 4700 block of Bighorn Road in which a 73-year-old man was ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene.
A missing person’s report led police to assist in the search and recovery of a 26-year-old female who was found deceased in Gore Creek east of Bighorn Park on Nov. 1. Results of the autopsy have not been released.
In April, police responded to a call placed to the Vail Communications Center that a bomb had been placed in a condominium unit in West Vail. The investigation revealed the call had been placed fictitiously and without knowledge or authorization from the owner of the phone. It was quickly determined that there was no threat to the public. No arrests were made.
Vehicle Break-ins and Construction Site Thefts
Police took numerous reports of vehicle break-ins and construction site thefts during the fall, causing investigators to issue public alerts advising residents and construction managers to secure their belongings.
Emergency Notification Tests
The Vail Public Safety Communications Center tested two emergency notification systems in May. The Wireless Emergency Alert test was sent to cell phones in the area while residents in West Vail heard test messages broadcast over a speaker system as officials evaluated the effectiveness of a long-range acoustic device that was temporarily installed at the West Vail fire station. Following the tests, public safety officials concluded that a singular notification tool won’t be enough to reach those who may be in imminent danger. Instead, officials advised citizens to make sure they’re signed up for the Eagle County Alert notification system at www.ecalert.org as a first step and to anticipate receiving other alerts in the event of an emergency.
Click it or Ticket
Police took part in the statewide Click it or Ticket campaign in the spring and summer devoting nearly 70 hours of patrol time to seat belt enforcement. The department’s educational efforts have helped keep compliance rates high.
National Drug Take Back Events
In addition to the Police Department’s year-round disposal site for unused household medications located in the Municipal Building, police participated in National Drug Take Back Events on April 28 and Oct. 27. The events are coordinated by the Safe Disposal Program, which is a partnership involving the Police Department, Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Eagle River Water and Sanitation District and Vail Health.
Bilingual Police Academy Recruit
In its continued effort to improve communications with Spanish-speaking community members, the Police Department offered a scholarship program in which tuition-free enrollment was provided to the police academy for bilingual recruits. This year, Jose Balderas was selected as the department’s second recipient, joining Elena Sanchez, who became an officer in 2017.
National Night Out
The Police Department joined Eagle County law enforcement agencies in hosting a National Night Out gathering in August. Vail’s event was held at Fire Station No. 2 in which officers and police volunteers answered questions and distributed information as residents stopped for a free barbeque.
Coffee with a Cop
Community members were invited to join the Police Department for coffee with a cop in August. The session was a continuation of the department’s community policing efforts aimed at improving relationships and building trust between police officers and the community members they serve. This effort provides additional opportunities for community conversations.
In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, officers donned pink badges and pink undershirts as part of their uniform. The department lost one of their own, Sgt. Robyn Fetterolf, to breast cancer in 2011.
Vail Police joined other local agencies in assisting Catholic Charities and the Eagle County Law Enforcement Immigrant Alliance with its annual coat drive. The children’s coats were collected during the fall and distributed to local kids and families in need. Over the last several years, the coat drive has distributed over 3,900 coats to those requesting assistance.
Chain Possession Inspection
The Police Department continued to partner with the Colorado State Patrol to ensure the safety of the traveling public by conducting vehicle chain possession inspections. State law requires trucks to carry chains from September through May when traveling on Interstate 70.
Golf Course & Nordic Clubhouse
Two vintage Vail themed Nordic posters, Jerry Ford Golf Tournament poster reproductions and historically significant photographs were reproduced and installed in the facility. An announcement/magnetic board was also installed. Working with Susan Swimm, faux floral arrangements and trees were created to enhance several public spaces of the clubhouse.
Red Sandstone Elementary School Garage
Seventy-seven artists submitted applications for consideration of the public art element for this capital project in May 2018. The AIPP board narrowed the selection to four finalists, from which Seattle-based artist John Fleming was selected for the project. Plans for the installation were coordinated throughout the year since the selection process in May. The artist visited the school in late October for a two-day workshop for 3rd grade students to incorporate their work in the installation.
Art with Alpine Arts Center
With funding from the Commission on Special Events, Alpine Arts Center offered their popular year-round art classes in Vail at a discounted rate. These popular group classes took place at Ford Park Amphitheater, Vail Recreation District Community Programming Room and at Vail Public Library. They included a craft project in conjunction with the Stickwork installation at the Betty Ford Alpine Garden Education Center. AIPP continued to support and promote the events to the public.
Relocation of Art
Several sculptures were relocated throughout the year with the assistance of Public Works including: George Tobolowsky’s Chinese Wall, Michael Anderson’s Bird of Paradise, Pard Morrison’s Resurrecting the Matriarch and Robert Tully’s Seat Rock.
Global Friendship Exchange Drumming Performance
In October, the town hosted a Taiko drumming performance as part of its continued Global Friendship Exchange cultural programming with Nagano Japan. The performance at Vail Mountain School featured internationally-renowned master drummer Makoto Yamamoto and members from the Taiko Summit Colorado group based in Boulder.
Evenings of Engagement @ your library
Evenings of Engagement programming entertained and informed over 3,000 attendees in 2018. Programming included living history performances, chocolate making in partnership with the Vail Recreation District, movie nights, an Earth Day worm composting workshop, book talks and signings, Celtic & acoustic musicians, chamber music, and even a professional pumpkin carver. An adult summer reading Program was offered for the fourth year featuring “Libraries Rock.”
Healthy Lifestyle Series
Healthy Lifestyle offerings included: Gentle Yoga twice per week, meditation every Sunday morning, Zumba every Monday evening, Introduction to Country Western Dance during the summer months and a Walking/Skiing Book Club depending upon the season.
One Book, One Valley
The seventh year of the county-wide community reading initiative One Book, One Valley took place as community members joined together to read “Underground Airlines” by author Ben Winters. In April, the author appeared in person to an audience of approximately 100 attendees at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards.
Common Cents for Colorado
Vail Public Library continued to build on its involvement in the Common Cents for Colorado initiative by offering financial literacy classes and an enhanced financial literacy collection of materials. These classes included not only seminars held at the library, but also presentations on Creating a Paper Trail for your Heirs, made to local high school classes and senior citizen groups.
Outreach and Programming for Seniors
In partnership with Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, United Way and Aging Well Eagle County, the library offered several Senior Horticultural Therapy programs for seniors from throughout the valley and two events took place at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens Education Center. Beginning in April, Sensational & Super Seniors @ your library was offered. This is a monthly program that invites seniors from across the valley to get together. Gentle yoga is also offered to the seniors in partnership with Eagle Valley Senior Life on Monday afternoons.
Children’s Services @ your library
The library’s partnership with Red Sandstone Elementary School entered its seventh year in 2018. Due to the school construction in the fall of 2018, staff traveled to “Camp Minturn” to bring the teachers and students programming and books. Beginning in March 2019, classes will be able to again visit the library monthly to borrow materials and discover how to use its vast resources. Vail Mountain School classes also visited during the year and are scheduled to return. A new program, “Touch a Truck” was the highlight of the spring. Situated in the Ford Park parking lot, town and private vehicles, fire trucks and police cars were assembled for children to explore. The library’s Summer Reading program continued to serve the local and guest children with programs and incentives to read over the summer break. Teen Summer Reading saw an increase in participation with an online platform. The library offered Reading Buddies each season, a program that pairs teens with younger students for shared reading. Tech Studio and Robotics Club make computer and digital opportunities available to young patrons. The library is committed to offering free and fun monthly events for elementary and preschool-aged children. Noticing that students are often fully scheduled after school, library programs were taken on the road by partnering with Power Hours. The library continues to collaborate with programs and local businesses including: Eagle County Historical Society, Eagle River Land Trust, Walking Mountains Science Center, The Bookworm of Edwards, and Eagle River Youth Coalition’s Girls in Science, Blue Moose Pizza, Eagle Valley Library District and more.
Bilingual Story Time
The library continues to offer bilingual story time every Saturday morning which makes it flexible for parents. Vail is the only library in Eagle County that offers such a bilingual program on weekends. All activities – stories, songs, games and crafts are presented bilingually. Typically, 10 to 15 children attend this program, locals as well as guests.
Books for Babies
The library’s Books for Babies initiative, a collaboration with Vail Health Medical Center Foundation and their Women & Children’s Center, completed its fifth year thanks to the generosity of the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation in which bilingual baby books were given to all newborns. New in 2018, the library began providing books to hospitalized pediatric patients.
Tech Studio (Vail Public Library MakerSpace)
The Wednesday and Thursday Open Studio sessions saw attendance increase with the kids from hockey practice at Dobson Ice Arena who love to explore 3D printing. In addition to Open Studio hours, customers may also book appointments for a time more convenient for them. Staff continues attending conferences in search of new innovation to add to this featured area.
The library continued its participation in the Actively Green program with additional training and recertification at Walking Mountains Science Center. Composting and recycling in the facility is monitored regularly and a new product for the cleaning and disinfecting of items in the children’s area was used. The library was certified Actively Green in 2015 and achieved Gold Level Status in the State of Colorado’s Environmental Leadership Program awarded by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in 2016 and is part of the Annual Colorado Environmental Leadership Program Celebration each year. Vail Public Library remains the only library in the state to have achieved this status.
National Library Week
For the eighth consecutive year, the library offered a “fine free” period commencing with National Library Week in April. In an effort to recover overdue library materials, patrons were encouraged to return their overdue items without penalty or fine. The campaign resulted in $794 in fines waived in exchange for the return of 282 overdue library items.
The library is continually working to update its website at vaillibrary.com by expanding online information about its many services, including classes and programs, to make the library a more welcoming place digitally as well as physically. The library’s digital archive collection went live in 2018 through Marmot’s participation in the Digital Public Library of America. This brings the Voices of Vail - past, present and into the future - to the world through the library's online catalog.
Virtually Vail Digital Archives Initiative
The library’s digital collections were branded in 2018 and all live under the umbrella of Virtually Vail: Vintage Vail Quilt, Art in Vail and Vail Valley Voices. Vail Valley Voices continues to grow as more oral histories are added. In 2018, the library identified more digital archive projects that are waiting to be tackled (historical magazines & library history).
The valley’s beloved annual rummage sale was repurposed with the help of the library staff and supporters. When it became known that the Eagle Valley Community Fund Rummage Sale no longer had a building and was being discontinued, the library served as a catalyst in organizing community meetings comprised of previous volunteers to explore an alternate location for this much-loved valley wide event. The United Way of Eagle River Valley stepped forward and expressed interest in this endeavor. After months of meetings, site visits and conversations, the new rummage sale took place in September at the Eagle River Center.
Friends of Vail Public Library
This volunteer group of library advocates and volunteers raised funds for the library in a variety of ways. In 2018, the Annual 4th of July Bake Sale and Book Sale brought in over $1,000 and $1,400, respectively. The volunteer-run Book Nook at the library, which sells donated and used books year-round, has raised over $3,400 year-to-date. Finally, the Friends of the Library has received over $13,000 in donations from individuals through its annual appeal to previous donors, Vail homeowners, and other supporters of the library’s work. Volunteers are a critical component of the success of Vail Public Library, as funds raised through these efforts allow the library to expand the scope of our budgeted services and resources.
35th Anniversary Celebration
2018 marked the 35th anniversary of Vail Public Library in its current location. In recognition of the anniversary, an exhibit featuring highlights of the library’s history was created. Through the efforts of many over the years, the library stands as a legacy to the ski resort pioneers who started it, the values that continue to enrich it and the community of users that enable it. As an additional tribute, the library offered 35th anniversary coffee in partnership with Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea in time for holiday gift giving.
Library Services in Minturn
After meeting with the Town of Minturn’s Council earlier in the year for the One Book One Valley Proclamation, the Vail’s library staff began to work with Minturn to enhance their library at Town Hall by offering some of Vail's surplus book donations. The staff also shared experiences with building and installing Little Free Libraries in Vail and, as a result, Minturn now has 4 Little Free Libraries of their own which has garnered lots of positive feedback from their community. Minturn has been very grateful for this assistance and the Vail library has also invited residents to travel to Vail to enjoy additional library services.
Spanish Book Club
Earlier in the year, the library began hosting a Spanish Book Club for the housekeeping staff of the Antlers of Vail. Magda King, Antlers general manager, is one of the library’s cherished local lodging partners (providing complimentary lodging to performers of the Evenings of Engagement series). The library has been giving back to the Antlers by assisting them with literacy efforts for their housekeepers. The Spanish Book discussion is typically held quarterly at the library. This provides participants an opportunity to not only discuss a book but also gets them into the library and introduces them to the other services and programs offered.
New Video Recordings of DRB, PEC Meetings
In October, the town partnered with High Five Access Media in expanding its regular video recordings of Town Council meetings with the addition of Design Review Board and Planning and Environmental Commission proceedings. In announcing the expanded services, Town Manager Greg Clifton said the goal is to provide greater awareness and transparency given the DRB and PEC roles in reviewing applications of neighborhood and community interest. He also noted that government transparency is a high priority identified by the Town Council.
Cellular Service Upgrades
Crown Castle upgraded the HVAC systems in the Vail Village parking garage to allow for growth and expansion of AT&T and the possible addition of T-Mobile to the system. Equipment locations were upgraded in parallel to support this effort. As a result, the town has better coverage and a better experience for its constituents and visitors.
Board and Commission Appointments
Board and Commission appointments during the year included: Rollie Kjesbo, Ludwig Kurz, and Brian Stockmar to the Planning and Environmental Commission; David Campbell, Bill Pierce, and John Rediker to the Design Review Board; Patricia Donovan, Julie Hansen, William Pierce, and Kara Woods to the Art in Public places Board; Kirk Hansen and Donovan Sornig to the Vail Local Licensing Authority; Franciso Meza to the Vail Housing Authority; Barry Davis, Mark Gordon, Marco Valenti, and Alison Wadey to the Vail Commission on Special Events; Beth Slifer, Esmarie Faessler, Skip Thurnauer, Yann Benjamin and Jana Morgan to the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council; and Mark Donaldson, Mark Hallenbeck and Kathy Langenwalter to the Building and Fire Codes Appeals Board.
Community Development Department
Matt Gennett was hired as the department’s new director, replacing long-time director George Ruther who transitioned to lead the town’s new Housing Department. Gennett has 19 years of municipal planning and management experience. He was previously the planning manager for the Town of Silverthorne and had also worked for Vail from 2002 to 2006.
Public Works Department
The town’s fleet manager, Todd Scholl, retired from the town after 37 years. Under Scholl’s leadership, Vail’s fleet program is considered to be one of the best in Colorado due to the caliber of its maintenance team which includes skilled mechanics, auto body technicians and a welder. Jeff Darnall, formerly the town’s fleet supervisor, was promoted to assume the fleet manager positon following an extensive interview and selection process. Other notable retirements during the year included bus drivers John Ervin, with 33 years, and Curtis “Cinci” King, after more than 20 years, respectively.
Officer Jim Applegate retired after 26 years of service. Also during the year, the department welcomed four new officers who graduated from the Colorado Law Enforcement Training Academy: Michael Chon, Tyler Johnston, Jose Balderas and Angela Sommer.
Gary Wall, who served as Vail’s police chief from 1973 to 1979, died in July after collapsing at his home in Routt County. He was 76. Wall had also served as Routt County Sheriff from 2006 to 2010.
Warren Miller Legacy Day
Together with Warren Miller’s family and friends, Vail Mountain honored the late Warren Miller with the Warren Miller Legacy Day on April 7. Combined, Vail Mountain and Beaver Creek Resorts have appeared in 28 different Warren Miller feature films.
Use the information below to contact the Town of Vail or visit our contact page.