Collaboration and partnerships across the county contributed to an eventful year for the Town of Vail in 2019. These public-private partnerships culminated in a ribbon cutting for completion of the Solar Vail Apartments in Vail, plus completion of the 6 West development in Edwards. These investments, along with others, brought additional momentum to the town’s housing goal to acquire 1,000 new deed restrictions by the year 2027. Meanwhile, a three-way partnership between the town, Vail Mountain and the Vail Chamber & Business Association resulted in initiatives that were used to grow early-season business through the weeklong Revely Vail activities, while the PrimaVail program was launched to elevate the guest experience via community wide training and social engagement experiences. Other noteworthy activities included the hiring of Scott Robson as Vail’s new town manager, November’s Town Council election and the challenges associated with available vacant land and critical wildlife habitat in review of the Booth Heights development application. As the year was coming to an end, a working group was formed with representation from the town, U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Parks & Wildlife to collaborate on a plan for the long-term protection of the bighorn sheep herd in East Vail.
Examples of the many other partnerships and significant activities that can be attributed to the Town Council, staff and members of the community are detailed below:
In September, Scott Robson was introduced to community as Vail’s new town manager. Formerly the executive director of the Civic Center Park Conservancy in Denver, Robson was selected for his multi-disciplined experiences in the public and non-profit sectors, having served as director of Denver Parks and Recreation, alternative transportation and trails manager with Boulder County government, lead planning manager with the National Park Service and CEO of the Colorado Mountain Club, among other experiences. Robson, a life-long Coloradan, began his post on Nov. 1. He was among four finalists interviewed by the Town Council and community members in September following an initial screening of 73 applicants. Robson replaced Greg Clifton who served in the post for 19 months before resigning in April, calling it a mutual parting of the ways. While in Vail, Clifton said he was especially proud of the directors who had been hired during his tenure, calling them solid leaders who would help move the organization in a positive direction for years to come. Throughout the transition, Patty McKenny, the assistant town manager, served as interim manager.
Voters returned three incumbents and elected a fourth candidate to the Town Council during the Nov. 5 election. Incumbents Kevin Foley, Kim Langmaid and Jen Mason were re-elected to four-year terms, while Brian Stockmar won election to a two-year term from among seven candidates. Also, voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure to impose a special sales tax on cigarettes, tobacco products and nicotine products. The tax goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020 with an estimated $500,000 in annual revenues to be used to raise public awareness of the dangers of nicotine-based products and other general fund purposes.
Town Council Leadership
Following a post-election organizational meeting of the Town Council, Dave Chapin was reappointed to serve as mayor and Kim Langmaid was appointed mayor pro tem. The two were unanimously elected by their colleagues following a swearing-in ceremony of the incoming Town Council members. The terms are for two years.
Bighorn Sheep Habitat Improvement Working Group
A working group involving representation from the Town Council, town staff, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service and a third-party biologist was formed in December to further a plan for next steps involving short and long-term efforts to improve the bighorn sheep habitat in East Vail. The group is to meet every two weeks through the winter, then monthly thereafter with regular updates to the Town Council and the public to solicit input. As envisioned, the improvement plan would be drafted by a consulting biologist to be submitted to the Forest Service for consideration.
Holy Cross Energy Franchise Fee
The Town Council approved a new franchise agreement with Holy Cross Energy that included an increase in the utility’s franchise fee from 3% to 4% to help support the town’s public safety request to accelerate the undergrounding of utility lines. According to public safety officials, overhead power lines have been a source for wildfires in recent years with six such fires documented in the Vail Fire response area since 2017. The fires occurred in multiple ways, including downed lines, equipment failures and trees contacting power lines. The 1% increase became effective in July and will revert to 3% once the undergrounding is complete.
East Vail Trailhead Study
In partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, the town contracted with the U.S. Department of Transportation Volpe Center, which specializes in multimodal transportation solutions, to help facilitate a study to identify short-term and long-term actions to help reduce crowding on East Vail trails and associated impacts. The trails – Booth Lake, Gore Creek, Deluge Lake, Pitkin Creek and Bighorn Creek – are used to access the Eagles Nest Wilderness. The study included an intercept survey of trail users during the summer, trail counts and implementation of a series of actions that included the addition of portable toilets, additional wayfinding signs to direct visitors to available parking, implementation of a trail host program, trail monitoring by the Front Country Ranger program, creation of a Hikevail.net website as well as additional communications to emphasize trail options to relieve crowding. The study outlined the issues, desired future conditions and additional management strategies needed to meet the goals of protecting the wilderness experience and character of these iconic trails. Potential short-term and long-term actions include building additional awareness about other trail options to relieve overcrowding and, if necessary, restricting access to the trails through a combination of parking and transit policies.
A new, all-inclusive guest service training initiative was launched by the town in October in partnership with Vail Mountain and the Vail Chamber & Business Association and was to continue throughout the 2019-2020 ski season. Building upon foundational work developed by the VCBA last winter as well as guest service training philosophies and programming unique to Vail, PrimaVail is a comprehensive, multi-day curriculum that includes interactive tips and techniques related to Vail-specific guest interactions, Vail history sessions, village tours, employee engagement activities, service recognition awards and an end of season hospitality certification – all designed to empower employees and elevate the guest experience. Offered at no cost to employees, managers and owners of Vail businesses, PrimaVail had touched more than 200 employees by the end of the year.
To complement completion of the significant snowmaking investment on Vail Mountain, the town introduced Revely Vail, a weeklong celebration during Thanksgiving week that included ice skating shows, cooking classes, an open market, tree lighting and other activities to mark the beginning of ski season. Revely Vail will be held annually to help drive early-season business.
Vail debuted a new town-wide tradition during the opening of Vail Mountain’s 57th season on Nov. 15 when Mayor Chapin, the Pepi Gramshammer family and other dignitaries took part in the inaugural Vail Après bell-ringing on Pepi’s Deck in Vail Village. Thereafter, bells began ringing each day precisely at 3 p.m. to mark the beginning of après ski and to celebrate a new tradition in Vail. Bells were to continue ringing until the close of the ski season. The Vail Après activation was inspired by a partnership between the Town of Vail, Vail Mountain and the Vail Chamber & Business Association to provide a world-class experience for Vail’s collective vacationing guests and grow a sustainable tourism economy.
The Town Council approved funding to support Project THOR, an effort led by Northwest Colorado Council of Governments to provide the middle mile portion of a broadband network to multiple communities throughout Northwest Colorado. When completed, the benefits will dramatically increase bandwidth, full-speed redundancy for uninterrupted connectivity, and most importantly it sets up the Town of Vail for long-term initiatives requiring better bandwidth with an Initial backbone set up for 200GB, and upgradable to 4 TB. The project will also add 10GB transport link available between Vail Public Safety Communications Center to sister 911 agency Pitkin County, as well as other 911 agencies in Northwest Colorado. And finally, the project will help create an opportunity to sell bandwidth to other entities which can help offset the town’s IT costs. The Town of Vail will serve as the local connection host for the THOR network at a “Meet Me” Center access point. The funding for the project (estimated at over $2M) has been supported by the Colorado Dept. of Local Affairs, CDOT, and local community dollars provided by the member communities of NWCCOG. The fiber connectivity throughout town will be regarded as leading-edge and helps to keep Vail in a position of competitive strength economically as well as secures a high level of broadband services to the community.
The town renewed its friendship relationship with Japan in the spring with a Student Immersion and Cultural Exchange Program that sent a 10-member delegation of students, chaperones and a translator to Yamanouchi-machi, Obuse, Nagano and Tokyo. The itinerary and planned activities included numerous cultural and culinary experiences, school and government interactions and visits to attractions. The trip served as a pilot program to determine whether future student exchange programming would be successful in light of language and travel challenges. The town hopes to continue to work with local students and schools in an effort to continue such student exchanges into the future.
A new online community engagement digital platform, EngageVail.com, was used to assist in collaborating with the community on two planning initiatives during the year – the Civic Area Plan and Vail Valley Drive Safety Improvements. More than 700 community members participated in the online surveys and discussions.
Vail Social Community Potluck
Inspired by a vintage photo showing a festive picnic during Vail’s early days, a reboot event was held in September in the form of a community potluck. The Vail Social attracted about 600 participants to Solaris Plaza for an evening of comradery and friendship. Attendees were asked to make a donation to the Hope Center, a 24-hour crisis center serving the Eagle Valley.
Ski/Ride with Elected Officials
Members of the Vail Town Council and Eagle County Commissioners hosted another series of ski/ride gatherings, inviting members of the community to join them on Vail Mountain for information, conversation and networking. The gatherings were to continue for the 2019-2020 season.
Glenn Porzak, the water rights attorney who has worked tirelessly through the decades to advance and protect water rights for Vail and the Western Slope, was honored as the recipient of the 2019 Vail Trailblazer Award. Presented by the Vail Town Council, the award has been established as an annual civic recognition to honor those who contribute their time and talent to make Vail a great resort.
Annual Community Meeting
The 19th annual Vail Community Meeting for 2019 was headlined by a celebration recognizing Glenn Porzak as the recipient of the Trailblazer Award as well as an overview of the state of the town introduced by Mayor Dave Chapin. The March 12 meeting also included a review of notable accomplishments on the topics of housing, sustainability, parking and an elevated partnership with the leadership team at Vail Mountain. Another highlight was a tribute to Fire Lt. Scott Bridges in which community members were asked to sign an oversized card to share their well-wishes after Bridges was injured while performing an act of kindness after stopping to assist with a multi-car accident on his way to work.
Community picnics at Bighorn and Donovan Parks were hosted by the town for the 20th year. Each summer, the picnics provide residents an opportunity to offer comments and suggestions about community issues to members of the Town Council and staff.
The Town Council adopted an $85.4 million budget for 2020 following public hearings in October. In addition to municipal service operations, the spending plan focuses on community priorities of housing, master planning, experience, economy and sustainability. Funding was included to continue the success of the Vail InDEED program and other housing initiatives, plus an update of the Vail Vision Plan, continued funding of special events and employee engagement activities in partnership with Vail Resorts and the Vail Chamber & Business Association, additional dollars for planning and feasibility studies to begin implementation of the Civic Area Master Plan, funding for wildlife habitat improvements, Gore Creek water quality enhancements, program updates required to maintain Vail’s global sustainable destination certification, implementation of the first phase of the Public Works Shops expansion and acquisition of electric buses, among other priorities.
Sales tax collections, a vital indicator of the town’s economy and providing 40% of the town’s annual revenues, saw a healthy increase with collections through October of $23.7 million, up 5.1% from the prior year. Sales tax growth was largely due to a strong winter season January through April. Summer months that have enjoyed double digit growth in previous years leveled out in 2019, with year-over-year growth of 1%. Year-to-date Real Estate Transfer Tax collections of $6.4 million through November were pacing down 3% from the prior year. It should be noted that 2018 was a record year, with collections of $7.6 million.
In 2019 the town supported economic development and community connectedness with the support of close to sixty events and programs and over $2.5 million. These included Mountain Games, Bravo Vail, Hot Summer Nights, Taste of Vail, Oktoberfest, Summer Bluegrass Series, Burton US Open, Vail Farmers Market, Vail Outlier, Vail Soccer Club and many more. The non-profits and community programs that received funding included Vail Veterans, Project Funway, Starting Hearts, Vail Symposium, The Vail Community Arts classes and more. Throughout the year, the town saw record attendance at many of the events, as well as elevated talent, incredible culinary experiences and new community gatherings.
The Welcome Centers had another busy and successful year assisting more than 158,000 guests with useful information and suggestions to enhance their visit, while the Community Host program, an extension of the Welcome Center programming, with a volunteer force of 50, assisted over 51,000 guests and locals during their time on the streets. In addition, the staff facilitated recruitment and facilitation of a new Trail Host volunteer program which kicked off during the summer with 14 volunteers. The Trail Hosts provided guests with wayfinding assistance, trail and parking information, Eagles Nest Wilderness stewardship ethics as well as tips on trail and dog etiquette to impart a welcoming atmosphere. The hosts saw over 7,000 visitors and locals accessing the five trailheads in East Vail. They also helped conduct an intercept survey regarding trail use which is being used to help plan access options for the future.
Twenty-six new business licenses were issued by the town in 2019, including 10 new retail establishments, 5 new lodging/property management businesses, 3 new food and beverage licenses, and 8 in the “other” category, including an escape room and a pet sitting business.
Year-two of the town’s short-term rental regulations saw an increase in the number of online registrations and compliance. The estimated compliance rate of 92% for the year includes 2,317 registered properties in Vail and follows announcement by the town in June that it would be issuing fines for unregistered short-term rentals following a 90-day grace period.
Results of an independent audit of town financials for 2018 showed the town continuing its strong financial position. For the full year, government-wide revenue exceeded expenses by $27.2 million. Total reserves at the end of 2018 amounted to $93.8 million. Of that, $73.1 million is available for general operations and capital spending. The remainder is restricted by use, such as the town’s Dispatch Services, Health Insurance Fund and Heavy Equipment Fund.
Solar Vail Apartments
In November, ahead of the start of the 2019-2020 winter season, Town Council and Vail Local Housing Authority members joined Johannes Faessler and other representatives from Sonnenalp Properties, Inc., for a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate completion of the new Solar Vail Apartments. With 65 new apartments, the development was made possible by a collaborative partnership between Sonnenalp Properties, Town of Vail and the Vail Local Housing Authority. All of the new homes have been deed-restricted and are occupied by residents of Vail, with 25% of the homes intentionally set aside for employees and businesses other than the Sonnenalp Hotel. The Solar Vail partnership represented the first use of the Vail InDEED program in which the town purchased 62 deed-restrictions at a cost of $65,000 per unit for a total of $4.03 million. Prior to construction, the 24-unit property was used exclusively for Sonnenalp employees; only 9 homes were deed-restricted. Sonnenalp Properties has since deed-restricted 6 existing homes elsewhere in Vail to ensure the new development is a net increase of new homes within the community.
6 West Apartments
In keeping with input shared in prior community surveys the Town Council partnered with local developer Steve Spessard of Gore Creek Partners and the Eagle County Commissioners to seek solutions to the town’s need for housing west of Dowd Junction. In the first of its kind public-private partnership, the Town Council and Eagle County Commissioners collaborated to acquire a total of 36 deed restrictions in the new 6 West development in Edwards. The town’s financial investment totaled $625,000 for 23 of the 36 total deed restrictions, or $27,174 per deed restriction. The mix of one, two, and three-bedroom homes add to the supply of deed-restricted homes available to local businesses and employees. To ensure a return in value to the Vail taxpayer and to benefit Vail business and their employees, the Town Council was insistent that Vail businesses and employees be granted preferred status in the annual leasing of its 23 homes. The 6 West model of collaboration establishes a process for future down-valley housing partnership opportunities.
Slifer Fountain Renovation
Renovation of Slifer Fountain near the Covered Bridge in Vail Village was completed during the year to wrap up phase two of a multi-year project that included repairs to the remainder of the plaza including replacement of existing snowmelt mains, improved storm water quality, removal and replacement of heated pavers associated with utility work as well as pavement replacement. The renovated fountain features enhanced action of the water through 5 waterfalls, 2 pools and a cascade run. The visibility of the water features has been improved and the fountain has been made safer and more interactive.
East Vail Interchange Water Quality and Landscape Improvements
Work was completed on a large, multi-year project at the East Vail Interchange. During 2018, water quality vaults, curb and gutter and other hardscape improvements were installed. In 2019, the landscape improvements, which included boulder walls, graded berms, a new irrigation system and hundreds of trees and shrubs were added. The work included completion of a manmade wetland “finishing area” along the creek, the final stage of the stormwater treatment improvements for the area. With its completion, stormwater runoff from the 17-acre interchange now runs through concrete water quality vaults to remove large sediment and then flows into the wetland to filter fine sediment and other pollutants before entering Gore Creek. In addition, removal of more than 1,500 square feet of asphalt recreation trail and the installation of a 40- foot-wide vegetated buffer between Bighorn Road and Gore Creek will filter runoff from Bighorn Road.
After completing construction of its west wing in 2017, construction of the next phase of improvements at Vail Health continued with a focus on the hospital’s east wing, which will include a new state-of-the art Emergency Department with a main entrance on South Frontage Road; relocated helipad on the medical center campus with direct access to the hospital; new clinic for Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery; more covered parking; new concealed loading zone; new pharmacy, gift shop and coffee shop; and new imaging/radiology department. Scheduled for completion in late 2020, the medical center will accommodate the world’s most advanced mountain health care system.
The owners of Highline, a Doubletree Hotel, applied for approval of a Major Exterior Alteration, a Zone Change, and a Special Development District (SDD) to allow for the development of a hotel addition to add 79 accommodation units, convert 19 existing dwelling units to 19 limited service lodge units, create a 12 unit Employee Housing Unit dormitory, remove office space, add conference space and build a 16 unit employee housing apartment building, and related uses and improvements, located at 2211 N. Frontage Road. A work session was held with the Planning and Environmental Commission on Dec. 9 and a conceptual review before the Design Review Board was held on Dec. 18.
Civic Area Plan
Prior to adoption of the Civic Area Plan in November, the town spent much of the year gathering community feedback on ideas for future improvements to the town-owned properties that collectively make up the Civic Area. This feedback, with over 750 participants taking part in the online platform EngageVail.com, was used to develop numerous designs, program expansion and place-making opportunities to illustrate what might be possible both physically and experientially. The properties within the study area include Dobson Ice Arena, Vail Public Library, Lionshead Parking and Transportation Center, charter bus lot and the Vail Municipal Building Center. Concepts identified in the plan range from big ideas, such as exploring the charter bus lot east of the Lionshead parking structure as a centerpiece for a variety of civic uses, to more modest improvements such as adding a second floor to the library. The plan also identifies various financing mechanisms for implementation.
Public Works Shop Master Plan Update and Phase 1 Improvements
In May, the Town Council adopted the Public Works Master Plan after a review and recommendation of adoption from the Planning and Environmental Commission. The Master Plan envisions a 20-plus year buildout of the site. This includes expansion of the shop yard, reconstruction of the Streets Maintenance Building with the potential for additional floors in the future, up to 4.5 acres of ground mounted solar arrays as well as solar arrays on each new or reconstructed roof. In addition, direction was provided for maximizing housing with up to an additional 120 units on the site. The master plan also laid out issues and concerns which would need to be addressed at the time of specific project applications. These include wildlife impacts, site access and geologic hazards. In August, the town submitted a development application for Phase 1 improvements to be reviewed by the Planning and Environmental Commission. The application includes expansion of the shop yard through construction of a 22’ retaining wall, reconstruction of the street maintenance building and construction of a rockfall protection berm. The application included an Environmental Impact Report addressing bighorn sheep impacts. The budget for the first phase currently totals $21.3 million and is being funded from reserves.
West Vail Master Plan
As the year was coming to a close, the Town Council adopted goals for its 2020 West Vail Master Plan process that will provide a blue print for environmentally and economically sustainable land use, zoning and development decisions in West Vail. The plan will address commercial and residential properties in a study area that spans both sides of the interstate. Goals include a robust public engagement process to collect community ideas and opinions, inclusion of environmentally sustainable best practices for future development, identification of opportunities to better utilize land including options for future housing sites and fostering economic vitality and aesthetic enhancements. Identified next steps included selection of a consultant team to help lead the project.
Electric Bus Grant
The town was awarded $525,288 in grant funding through Federal Transit Administration Section 5339 to support the purchase of 4 electric buses in 2020 to replace four aging hybrid buses servicing the in-town route. To support infrastructure upgrades required for the electric buses, the town also received an infrastructure grant for $1,099,920 awarded through the Colorado Department of Transportation’s FASTER grant program.
Summer parking operations saw free daytime parking, plus the return of a $25 overnight fee for the Vail Village and Lionshead parking structures. Allowances for free overnight parking were again made for guests of nearby lodges with on-site parking limitations as well as employee overnight shift-work. The fee had been implemented during the 2018 summer season and was considered to be an effective deterrent in reducing the number of vehicles parked overnight, thereby creating additional capacity for free parking offered during the day and limiting overflow parking on the Frontage Road. New this year, free overnight parking for up to 72 hours was offered in the Red Sandstone Parking Garage.
Parking policies and pricing established for the 2019-2020 winter season remained consistent with the previous season as recommended by the Parking & Transportation Task Force. The last pricing adjustments occurred during the 2017-2018 season.
Red Sandstone Parking Garage Technology
A new camera monitoring system was installed as a pilot project at the Red Sandstone Parking Garage which detects availability and occupancy of each space. In addition to assisting the public in identifying available spaces, the technology is being used by the parking staff to enforce length of stay and other violations. Based on effectiveness of the new technology, the town will consider future installations in the Vail Village and Lionshead structures.
In January, residents were asked to be mindful of snow removal operations after recording more snow at that time of year than all of the previous season. It was suggested that property owners remove hazardous ice and snow accumulations that might endanger public safety and that extra care be taken when driving through the neighborhoods due to hidden driveway entrances.
The town issued its annual reminder to area property owners in April by asking residents to review their current insurance policies and consider adding flood insurance to the coverage, noting the higher than average snowpack levels in some areas. In May, free sand material and bags were made available for residents who wished to safeguard their property from potential flooding.
Vail Valley Drive Safety Improvements
During the spring, the town invited residents of the Golf Course neighborhood as well as cyclists, bike shops and other recreationalists to assist in the development of recommendations for safety improvements along Vail Valley Drive from Ford Park to Sunburst Drive. This three-quarter mile stretch of roadway has become increasingly dangerous due to the conflicts associated with the sharing of travel lanes by cars, buses, cyclists and pedestrians. Surveys and open houses took place to solicit community feedback. During an update to Town Council in November, a decision was made to pursue further investigation of a trial one-way operation for the busy months of the summer, as well as to look at the possibility of adding shoulder/bike lane striping along Vail Valley Drive with minimal to no widening.
Vail Valley Drive Sidewalk Connection
The long-awaited missing link of sidewalk was added during the year along Vail Valley Drive at Vail Trails. The short section of sidewalk provides the last piece of continuous walk along the east side of Vail Valley Drive.
Crews from the Fire and Public Works departments cleared streets and removed trees and limbs from the creeks after a late spring snow storm caused significant damage throughout town in May. Curbside chipping services were activated to help with the clean-up.
Bridge Road Bridge Replacement
A new bridge was constructed during the year. The previously existing bridge over Gore Creek on Bridge Road was actually three old culvert pipes. This restricted Gore Creek during high runoff and many times Gore Creek overtopped Bridge Road. These culverts also restricted access down Gore Creek for boaters. The new structure includes a single span bridge opening up Gore Creek for high run off and boaters.
Bridge Road Watercraft Put-in and Loading Zone
With the replacement of the vehicular bridge on Bridge Road, a long-used rafting and kayaking put-in location was eliminated. Working with local rafters, stand-up paddleboarders and kayakers, a new watercraft launch area was designed and constructed downstream of Bridge Road. A loading zone was created on Bridge Road to allow users to park and unload their gear. The new put-in area will accommodate commercial rafting companies as well as private boaters.
West Forest Road and Kinnickinnick (West) Road Bridge Rehabilitations
These two bridges saw safety and structural improvements this year in order to extend the life of each bridge.
West Lionshead Circle Crosswalks
Two new paver crosswalks were added to West Lionshead Circle from the Lion to Concert Hall Plaza and from Vail Spa to the Marriott. Each were funded by the Lion and Vail Spa, respectively.
U.S. Mountain Community Summit
In January, the inaugural U.S. Mountain Community Summit was hosted in Vail with support from the town, Vail Resorts, Vail Health and Vail Valley Partnership. Private and public sector stakeholders from 26 mountain communities, including real estate developers, land planners, business leaders and impact investors dedicated to community-building came together for three days of solutions-based presentations to address the affordability gap in resort-based mountain towns. Attendees applauded the town for its new Vail InDEED program, noting its success and innovation. A highlight of the Summit was the YIMBY Jamboree which brought together local panelists to discuss best-practice community-building solutions.
Housing Goal Progress
Progress was made during the year toward the Vail Housing 2027 Strategic Plan’s adopted goal of acquiring 1,000 new deed-restrictions by the year 2027. At the time of adoption, 698 deed-restrictions were recorded on properties within the town. As of Dec. 15, that number had increased by 28% to 893.
Vail Local Housing Authority
The Vail Local Housing Authority realized many accomplishments in 2019 including continued implementation of the Vail InDEED program with funding of $10.6 million authorized by the Town Council in 2019. The partnership efforts resulted in acquisition of 29 new deed-restrictions on behalf of the town. Additional key accomplishments included partnership in the Solar Vail redevelopment, recommendations on improvements to the Town’s deed restriction compliance and enforcement processes, recommendations on amendments to the Town’s adopted employee housing guidelines, completion of a community opinion survey on housing, and the drafting of a housing investment study.
Housing Investment Study
An update to the 2012 Economic Value of Employee Housing was completed. The 2019 Economic Values and Community Benefits of Vail’s Investment in Deed-Restricted Homes Report, prepared by Economic & Planning Systems, revealed the following key findings:
Each investment in one, resident-occupied, deed restricted home in Vail of $65,000 yields a 5% annual return on investment, $3,200; up to $312,650 in community benefits, economic value and opportunity costs to the community which is an investment multiplier of 4.81X; an annual reduction of at least 8.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide (MTCO2e); and the avoidance of an average of $8,400 in annual business expenses associated with employee retention, turn over, recruitment and training. In sum, the outcome of the report quantified and supports the value of the Town’s investment in deed-restricted homes in the community.
Community Opinion Survey
A community opinion survey was sponsored by the Vail Local Housing Authority in a partnership with the Vail Town Council in June to gather public sentiment on how to address Vail’s resident housing shortage. In particular, the survey probed the level of support regarding a potential property tax increase or sales tax increase to partially fund future housing needs in the community. Results showed a high level of awareness about the need to increase the supply of locals housing as well as support for the town’s role as a partner or facilitator. While there was less support for a tax increase as a funding source, the survey results are to be used as a baseline measurement for the possibility of a future ballot question on the topic.
Booth Heights Development
An application to build deed-restricted homes on a parcel owned by Vail Resorts located in East Vail made its way through the development review process during the year drawing attention to the challenges associated with available vacant land and critical wildlife habitat. The town’s review and decision-making sequence reflected the community’s polarization on the matter with a series of split votes that began in March when the Town Council voted against a pre-development agreement with Triumph Development that would have enabled 100% of the development’s rental homes to be deed-restricted. The development application submitted to the town in May was modified to reflect Council’s earlier decision and the opportunities permitted by the Housing (H) zone district. A series of hearings by the Planning and Environmental Commission took place during the course of the summer and included review by a panel of biologists hired by the town to evaluate a series of actions proposed by the developer’s biologist to improve the habitat for bighorn sheep and other wildlife. In August, the Booth Heights development application was approved (4-3) by the PEC with 14 conditions. The approval was for 61 residential units total, including 49 units of deed-restricted employee housing units, plus 12 unrestricted, free-market townhomes in addition to 125 surface parking spaces and 31 enclosed garage spaces. The development approval was challenged in September when the town accepted seven citizen appeals of the PEC approval. A hearing was held in October in which all seven appeals were heard simultaneously by the Town Council at which time the Town Council voted 4-3 to uphold PEC’s approval. In November, the town was notified that Council’s decision to uphold PEC’s approval was being challenged in District Court. Simultaneous to the legal challenge, an application was made by Triumph Development to the Design Review Board in December to continue the town’s review process. As the year came to a close, interested parties were monitoring activities related to the Booth Heights development on all fronts.
Chamonix Vail Parcel
The Vail Town Council authorized the sale of a remaining parcel on the town-owned Chamonix Vail property in West Vail following approval of development applications that will allow for construction of a multiple-family free-market structure with an attached deed-restricted housing unit of at least 1,200 square feet in size. Vail’s housing zone district allows for free market development to help subsidize the cost of deed-restricted development. The parcel was sold in December for $875,000. Through the approval of the sale, the Town Council reaffirmed its housing policy to seek housing partnerships with the private sector to increase the supply of deed-restricted homes
Sale of Commercial Property
After 30 years of ownership, the town sold a 3,700 square foot commercial space located at 100 East Meadow Drive in the Vail Village Inn, Phase V building. The space had been acquired by the town as part of a mitigation obligation when the Phase V building was constructed. Since then, the lower level space had been largely underutilized during the town’s ownership of the property and it was noted that the sale would result in increased property and sales tax collections for the town. Net proceeds of the $1.5 million sale were to be used to achieve the town’s housing goals. In authorizing the sale, the Town Council acknowledged its interest in divesting itself of commercial real estate assets and instead invest in residential real estate assets which align with community input on the need to increase the supply of deed-restricted homes for Vail residents.
In June, the Town Council authorized the purchase of a 1-bedroom, 1-bath 580 sq. ft. home in the Homestake at Vail Condominiums for $325,000. Recognizing the town’s role as a housing leader and employer, the home was purchased by the town with the intent to sell the home to a town employee in the summer of 2020 with a deed restriction in place. The Town of Vail is one of the larger employers in the community.
A deed-restricted Vail Commons home was resold during a lottery process in May. The 927 sq. ft. 2-bedroom, 1.5-bath home was sold to a qualified buyer for $191,820. Vail Commons homes have a resale price appreciation cap of 3% per annum plus any approved capital improvements.
Another lottery was held for the resale of a home at Chamonix Vail. The 1,581 sq. ft. 3-bedroom, 3-bath, 2-car garage was sold for $613,461. Chamonix Vail homes have a resale price appreciation cap of 1.5% per annum plus any approved capital improvements.
These two resales demonstrate the limited supply of deed-restricted homes that come available for purchase to Vail residents annually.
Sustainable Destination – Top 100
Vail gained international recognition for its collective sustainability efforts in October by being named one of the Top 100 Sustainable Destinations in the world for the third year in a row. A delegation from Vail traveled to Croatia to accept the award at the Annual Global Green Destinations Days. The award is presented by Green Destinations, a non-profit organization for sustainable tourism. Vail will be working towards recertification as a Sustainable Destination in 2020.
Bighorn Sheep Habitat
In February, the Town Council reviewed a study recommending a series of actions to improve the bighorn sheep winter range habitat in Vail. A series of maps were reviewed showing locations for recommended mitigation actions on land owned by the town, Colorado Department of Transportation and the U.S. Forest Service. Suggested actions include prescribed burns and thinning of trees and shrubs to generate new growth that is easier for the sheep to access and more nutritious. There were also recommendations on noise, sightlines, barriers, movement corridors and enhanced vegetation to address recreation access and future development considerations. A plan for a prescribed burn on parcels owned by the town and CDOT was subsequently presented and approved by the Town Council; however, unfavorable burning conditions postponed the operations indefinitely. The town’s wildland fire crew was brought on several weeks early in the spring and completed habitat enhancement work on nearly 30 acres of town-owned land adjacent to the proposed Booth Heights development site. Crews focused on thinning mountain shrubs, opening movement corridors by removing downed aspen and spreading native grass seed along the berm to encourage vegetation. Town representatives spent the remainder of the year working with the U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife on the resources and additional planning assessments needed for implementation.
L. Hunter Lovins
Renowned author and champion of sustainable development, L. Hunter Lovins, joined the town’s environmental sustainability team for a discussion and book signing in February. Lovins is Time Magazine’s Millennium Hero for the Planet and co-author of “Natural Capitalism,” a best seller. Her appearance coincided with her involvement in assisting with the update of the town’s Environmental Sustainability Strategic Plan.
Community Wildlife Forum
In March, the town and Vail Symposium invited the community to attend a panel discussion with wildlife biologists on the state of wildlife in the Gore Creek and Eagle River Valleys. The panelists 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. This was the second year for the forum which has served as a catalyst in raising community awareness about the state of wildlife.
East Vail Property Donation
The first step in adding significant acreage to the town’s inventory of designated open space took place in December when the Town Council approved a resolution accepting donation of a 48.13-acre parcel for the purposes of open space. Acquisition of the property had been identified as an action item in Comprehensive Open Lands Plan.
Community Recycling Report
The town’s environmental sustainability office showed a 25% combined community recycling rate. The figure is calculated as a percentage of the total amount of municipal solid waste collected within the town. The national average is 34%, while the Colorado’s recycling rate is 17 %. 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% and a commercial recycling rate of 19% in 2010. At 25%, the town has achieved its 10-year goal and will be working to set and achieve more ambitious goals in 2020.
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.
Gore Creek Test Samples
In 2018, the State of Colorado changed the way it calculates aquatic macroinvertebrate scores for streams like Gore Creek. This change resulted in markedly lower scores for Gore Creek insect populations. However, by applying the new calculation to data collected over the last 9 years, it became clear that Gore Creek insect populations have been steadily improving over the last four years at nearly all monitoring sites.
With generous support from Eagle River Watershed Council and Colorado Water Conservation Board, Project Re-Wild partnered with the Sundial Townhomes HOA to complete its biggest project to date in 2019. The project re-connected a floodplain wetland to Gore Creek, stabilized banks on both side of the stream channel and established over 500 native plants as part of the effort to Restore the Gore.
Gore Creek Riparian Plantings
The town continued work to improve the vegetative buffer along Gore Creek as part of efforts to remove Gore Creek from the list of Impaired Waterways. Vegetation along streams helps to filter pollutants from runoff, prevent soil erosion, provide wildlife habitat and create shade to help cool water temperatures. In 2019, over 6,000 plants were installed along nearly 3 miles of Gore Creek’s banks. Plants ranged in size from small wetland plugs to shrubs to 8-foot trees. More than 700 lodgepole pine seedlings grown from seed collected in Vail were planted along with hundreds of willow stakes, many through volunteer programs. This work will continue in 2020.
Storm Drain Art
Artists were again commissioned to create original works for year-three 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.
A dozen 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 detergents, carpet cleaning fluid and other pollutants from reaching Gore Creek.
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 fifth year of the free sessions, which serves as a platform to spread the word about the Gore Creek Strategic Action Plan and small changes residents can make to positively affect the health of the creek together.
The town’s annual cleanup 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 Eagle River Watershed Council Community Pride Highway Cleanup. Over 20,000 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 continued to make an impact with a 90% reduction in the use of single-use bags at community grocery stores. Prior to the program, approximately 4 million plastic bags were distributed annually. Since the program’s inception, stores average distribution of 300,000 locally recyclable paper bags per year. 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.
Regional Electric Car Purchase
For a third year, Vail joined Garfield Clean Energy and other partners in offering a regional group buy incentive program providing discounts of $1,000 to $4,000 for electric car buyers. With four participating dealers, the 90-day campaign resulted in the purchase of 50 electric vehicles in the region.
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.
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 a behavior change campaign including a recycling education campaign, promoting the Waste Wizard app to easily access recycling information, and encouraging alternative transportation methods to single occupancy vehicles, including carpooling, human powered commuting, and using public transportation. In addition, the group sponsored a free electric bike demo event, identified locations to improve electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the county, and began development of building code to support reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Progress on initiatives in the renewable energy, building and transportation sectors to reduce emissions has been made. CAC members and other local stakeholders also worked to create a draft of the Eagle County Climate Resiliency Plan. 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% by 2025 and 80% by 2050 from the Eagle County 2014 baseline inventory.
National City Nature Challenge
Vail joined 150 cities on six continents to see which community could make the most observations of nature, find the most species and engage the most people in the 2019 City Nature Challenge. Prior to the challenge held on April 26-29, the Environmental Sustainability Team hosted a workshop on how to identify native plants and animals and to log those observations on the iNaturalist App. The effort resulted in 90 observations, including 69 species from 8 observers.
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 in November, the town sponsored a collection event to encourage waste reduction and recycling. This event included free electronics, vinyl banner and bike tube recycling and paper shredding. Nearly 7,000 pounds of e-waste were safely recycled in partnership with Blue Star Recyclers and 1,500 pounds of shredded paper was properly recycled by Alliance Moving Systems through this event. In addition, 1,050 pounds of vinyl banners and bike tubes was collected and taken to Green Guru in Boulder to be repurposed into bike panniers, messenger bags, backpacks, and a variety of other items. The recycling event was funded through the “Kick the Bag Habit” program.
Small Bin Exchange
Through a mini-grant from the state, the town distributed 40 wildlife resistant, 32-gallon trash bins to help reduce the amount of waste entering the landfill. Recipients were given the option of a recycling sticker to repurpose their larger trash bins into a recycling container or to exchange their larger trash bin. The smaller carts in service have the potential to reduce the amount of trash produced by 28 tons annually.
The town partnered with Vail Honeywagon to bring residential and commercial compost to the community. The residential drop site is currently servicing 25 Vail customers with the opportunity to expand the program in the future. There is a modest monthly fee to participate. Commercial route service is now available to all commercial businesses in the community.
Electric Bike Demo Day
In August, the town partnered with the Climate Action Collaborative and Eagle County to sponsor and host an E-Bike Demo Day to showcase a variety of brands of e-bikes from eight local bike companies available for the public to demo free of charge and to learn how e-bikes could be an option in reducing carbon emissions. Over 110 people participated in the event.
The ninth annual Sole Power Challenge, a free green commuting challenge offered to the entire Eagle Valley and facilitated by the town saw 255 members participate in the program. They logged over 38,500 miles in their daily commuting activities, which included cycling, walking, skating and other non-motorized travel. Their efforts presented over 35,300 pounds of carbon from entering the atmosphere. Participants had the chance to win over $7,000 worth of prizes donated by generous community partners.
Fire & Emergency Services Calls
Vail Fire and Emergency Services responded to 1,998 calls for service in 2019. This included 41 fires of various types, which consisted of 17 vehicle fires, 6 wildland fires, 14 structure fires and 4 miscellaneous fires. The remainder of the calls for service included 57 physical rescues, 708 emergency medical incidents (including vehicle accidents), 579 false alarms, 86 hazardous materials incidents, 10 other hazardous conditions, 191 service calls and 326 other calls for service. Vail Fire and Emergency Services also responded to calls for assistance out of Vail 206 times. Of the responses outside the Town of Vail, 146 were to the Vail Pass area. These responses are provided as part of an intergovernmental agreement with Eagle County.
Closest Unit Dispatching
In February, Vail Fire and Eagle River Fire Protection District (ERFPD) began a new protocol in which the closest unit is dispatched to an incident regardless of jurisdiction. The goal of this approach is to improve service by minimizing response times. Under this new model, an incident in West Vail that would normally have two engines respond might have one Vail Fire engine at the scene and one ERFPD fire engine if the ERFPD fire engine was closer than other Vail fire engines. Part of this approach is a formal “draw down” procedure which ensures that the Town of Vail has coverage when all Vail fire engines are committed to incidents.
Fire crews responded to a structure fire on Circle Drive in West Vail in August, one of the 8 structure fires in the Town of Vail recorded during the year. While there were no injuries during the incident, it was noted that several of the smoke alarms in the home had been removed. Had the fire occurred when the occupants were asleep, the removal of the smoke alarms could have had disastrous consequences.
Other Notable Incidents
Other significant incidents included a multi-patient motor vehicle accident involving a semi-truck on Vail Pass, a multi-patient motor vehicle accident involving three semi-trucks in Dowd Junction, and three separate “vehicle over the side” incidents on Red Sandstone Road (Piney Rd.) which required crews to deploy technical rope rescue systems to provide aid.
The 2019 wildfire season was quiet in comparison to 2018. Vail Fire Crews responded to a number of small human-caused fires throughout the season, none of them getting larger than 0.1 acres in size. Crews assisted the Upper Colorado River Fire Management Unit and Gypsum Fire to contain the 86-acre, lightning-caused fire near Dotsero in July.
146 property owners took part in another season of free chipping services provided by Vail Fire. Additionally, all homes in East Vail received a complimentary curbside wildfire hazard evaluation. Residents were provided a copy of their evaluation and encouraged to contact the department with questions about defensible space or measures they could take to help protect their home from the threat of wildfire.
Fire crews continued to burn slash piles that have been constructed as part of a series of wildfire mitigation projects. In all, approximately 500 piles were burned on State and U.S. Forest Service lands. Vail Fire continues to work cooperatively with the U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife to reduce hazardous fuel accumulations in the Intermountain area. To date over 150 acres of treatments have been completed and an additional 25 acres of treatment are still planned for completion. Vail Fire crews will continue to work in the area in 2020.
Wildland Urban Interface Code Changes
After incorporating feedback from the town’s development and design review and appeals boards over many months, the Fire Department presented and received Town Council approval of an ordinance that addresses design, construction and landscape requirements for new projects and substantial additions that will provide greater protection from wildfire. Chief Mark Novak indicated implementation of the code changes, over time, will improve community safety throughout Vail’s neighborhoods.
Booth Falls Prescribed Burn
In February, the Town Council and Colorado Department of Transportation approved a proposal presented by Fire Chief Mark Novak to conduct a prescribed burn in the Booth Falls area in an effort to improve the bighorn sheep habitat. As the first phase of a long-term habitat improvement project, a 4.8-acre town-owned parcel and a 1.8-acre parcel owned by CDOT were proposed for prescribed burns during the spring. Unfavorable burning conditions, however, postponed the burning operations indefinitely. Crews did complete hand work on a 25-acre parcel of land above Bald Mountain Road. The objective of the project was to open overgrown game trails to allow the sheep and other wildlife to more easily travel across the parcel and create small openings to stimulate new vegetation to grow for the sheep to eat.
Acoustical Warning Device
After testing the capabilities of an acoustical warning device, the Fire Department purchased a portable system which has the ability to be heard a quarter mile away. The warning system is part of an effort to ensure there are redundant emergency notification systems in place to reach citizens in the event of an evacuation or shelter in place order issued by emergency responders.
Fire Lt. Scott Bridges suffered serious injuries in March when he stopped to provide assistance during a multiple vehicle car crash on I-70 near Avon while on his way to start his shift at the fire station in Vail. In addition to Lt. Bridges, three other people were transported to the hospital. An outpouring of community support for Bridges and his family followed in which a GoFundMe campaign was established to help with medical expenses. The incident also emphasized the importance of slowing down during winter driving conditions. Following a lengthy recovery, Bridges was welcomed back to work in November.
In November, rescue crews, led by Vail Fire, were dispatched to a report of a suicidal party who was trapped on a cliff approximately 1.5 miles up Piney Road. The woman was located on a ledge above an 80-foot cliff. The rescue efforts took four hours to bring the patient to safety and involved rappelling down the cliff face to reach her and using a rope system to lower her to the bottom of the canyon.
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.
Police responded to close to 40,000 calls for service, wrote approximately 1,650 incident reports and 400 traffic crash reports during the year. Officers arrested nearly 500 people, issued citations to over 950 people and issued over 1,700 warnings for traffic and code violations. Detectives managed 204 new cases in 2019 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 24.2%.
Police were called to the scene to investigate a fatal one-car crash on I-70 eastbound at mile marker 181 in March which claimed the life of a 31-year-old Rifle man and injured his 31-year-old passenger.
Vail Pass Rollover
In July, emergency responders were dispatched to a rollover crash on I-70 westbound at mile marker 182 in which five passengers had been removed from an overturned SUV by bystanders. Two of the patients were later air lifted from Vail Health to Denver area hospitals. The interstate was closed for an extended period while Colorado State Patrol completed the traffic investigation and cleared the interstate of debris. There was also a semi-truck involved that had used the emergency truck ramp.
Liquor and Tobacco Checks
The Police Department assisted the Colorado Department of Revenue Liquor and Tobacco Enforcement Division with compliance checks during the holiday season. The checks were conducted at bars, restaurants retail liquor stores, grocery stores and gas stations. Only two of 59 businesses checked were found to be in violation of Colorado law.
Snow Safety Awareness
Ski patrollers from Vail and Beaver Creek partnered with the Police Department to host a Snow Safety Awareness Night in February. The event provided an overview of tools that can be used to navigate available weather and avalanche resources, decision-making considerations and appropriate equipment.
The Police Department changed its fingerprinting services during the year to comply with streamlining measures adopted by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. The changes allow for fingerprinting to be offered in Vail for law enforcement-specific purposes as well as civilians who reside in Vail. Non-residents are now required to register online with the state to arrange for fingerprinting services at nearby processing centers in Avon, Frisco, Glenwood Springs and Carbondale.
School Resource Officer
In August, the Police Department partnered with Vail Mountain School to place a first-ever school resource officer there. Through a cost-share arrangement, the partnership provides a presence at VMS during the school year with the officer supporting the town’s event programming during the summer.
One Mind Campaign
In February, the Police Department announced its participation in the One Mind Campaign to improve its response to those suffering from mental illness in the community. To join the campaign, law enforcement agencies must pledge to implement four practices in a 12-36-month period to ensure successful future interactions between police officers and persons with mental illness. The One Mind Campaign was initiated by the International Association of Chief of Police.
Crime Spree Pursuit
After a brief manhunt, police arrested a 33-year-old Denver man who had terrorized the staff and guests of a Lionshead hotel after stealing a car from a valet at knifepoint, then crashing the vehicle and fleeing on foot. The man was charged with attempted murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated motor vehicle theft, first degree kidnapping, felony menacing, numerous burglary charges, assault, trespassing and other charges related to the July 5 incident.
Police arrested a 30-year-old Gypsum man after surveillance footage was distributed in September in connection with a series of burglaries in the area of Meadow Drive. Residents had been encouraged to lock their doors and call police if they saw suspicious activity. Property management companies were also encouraged to check any residences that had been unoccupied for an extended period of time.
Arson on Bridge Street
Surveillance footage was again used by police in November to help identify a man accused of burning an American flag on Bridge Street during the early morning hours. When the footage was posted to social media, the arson suspect, a 22-year-old EagleVail man, turned himself in after multiple people called police to identify the suspect.
Bike Thefts Arrest
After advising residents and guests to secure their bikes following a rash of thefts in June, Police later announced the arrest of a 60-year-old Denver man for the theft of two high-end bikes that had been stolen from shops in Vail Village as well as two additional high-end bikes stolen from locations in West Vail. Numerous other bikes, even those secured with locks or cables, had been reported stolen. Owners were being encouraged to bring their bikes indoors and take extra security measures. Following the arrest, the investigation continued with the focus on the recovery of other bikes.
Police asked for the public’s help in locating the good Samaritans who helped transport an unconscious woman to Vail Health in the early morning hours of Nov. 13. Police said information about the circumstances surrounding her discovery could assist in its investigation to determine how her injuries were sustained.
In December, police warned the community to be mindful of scams involving the internet and telephone after taking a significant number of reports from victims. The cases included fictious rental properties, Social Security scams, Internal Revenue scams, credit card scams, lottery scams and online classified sales scams.
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 in April and October. 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 & Sanitation District and Vail Health.
Polar Plunge teams from Police and other public service agencies took turns jumping into frigid Nottingham Lake during the annual event on March 30 to benefit Special Olympics of Colorado.
Vail officers joined with other law enforcement representatives for the annual Tip-A-Cop event at the Bully Ranch in April to raise funds for Colorado Special Olympics.
Emergency Responder Recognition
Eagle County Emergency responders and members of the public gathered for the 18th annual emergency responder recognition on May 10. The activities included a “Ride in Remembrance” event and a “Tribute to Our Fallen Heroes” at Donovan Pavilion. The service recognized the three law enforcement officers, one firefighter, one air ambulance pilot and a CDOT maintenance worker, who lost their lives in serving the citizens of Eagle County.
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. 3 in which officers and police volunteers answered questions and distributed information as residents stopped for a free barbeque.
Loading and Delivery
Initial discussions took place during the fall to identify possible improvements to the Vail Village loading and delivery regulations with the overall intent to improve the guest experience through efficiencies. The department was authorized to explore a possible cart system to make better use of existing loading docks.
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.
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 4,000 coats to those requesting assistance.
Shop with a Cop
Shop With a Cop had another successful year. Over 25 people from the Town of Vail volunteered to assist with this event, joining students from Battle Mountain High School’s boys basketball team and girls soccer team. Special thanks to the Four Seasons Hotel for hosting the event and providing dinner.
The Vail Police Department was awarded a co-responder grant to assist with the mental health crisis in Eagle County. 100% of the money will go to funding additional mental health clinicians for the Hope Center.
Art in Public Places sponsored numerous programs and projects during the year:
Summer Public Art Murals
During the summer, a series of commissioned murals by renowned Colorado artists transformed public spaces in both the Vail Village and Lionshead Parking structures. Fourth generation Colorado artist Kelsey Montague kicked off the series in June with her #WhatLiftsYou mural at the West P2 entrance at the Vail Village parking structure. In July, Pedro Barrios and Jaime Molina added their inspiration to the East P1 entrance in Lionshead. The series continued in August when Pat Milbery, the creator of Denver’s iconic “Love this City” mural campaign, came to Vail and left his mark at the Central P1 Entrance in the Vail Village parking structure.
Vail Mountain School – Senior Project
For the first time, Art in Public Places worked with a senior from Vail Mountain School to provide mentoring for her to complete her senior project in the visual arts. The student worked closely with AIPP to learn about the process of submitting a public art call and request for proposal. The student presented her proposal to paint an identified utility box in Ford Park in a formal review before the Art in Public Places Board. AIPP was delighted to have her assist in writing press materials, volunteering at events and ultimately the completion of her painting the utility box by the Betty Ford Schoolhouse in Ford Park.
10th Mountain Division Memorial Conservation
In April, the 10th Mountain Division sculpture was removed for approximately 10 weeks where it was fully restored. The work’s patina was completely refinished and bronze areas stabilized. Public Works reinstalled the popular sculpture by the Covered Bridge in Vail Village just in time for the Fourth of July festivities.
Free Art Walks
Free seasonal Art Walks were offered on selected Wednesdays during the winter and summer seasons in Vail Village. The tours continued their popularity with an average attendance of 30 people per walk. The walks were highlighted in USA Today, Denver Post and other media outlets.
13th Annual Vail Winterfest
Sponsored with Doe Browning
Paper Lantern Workshops and Holiday Lantern Walk
Vail’s Paper Lantern Workshops & Holiday Lantern Walk continued to be a highlight of the AIPP winter programs. Several hundred guests and residents participated in two workshops (VRD Community Programming & Library Community Room) sponsored by AIPP. Many who participated in the walk built their paper lantern at home and at school to join the Lantern Walk on Dec. 22. Local volunteers assisted in the event and the Small Champions also continued to participate in the Lantern Walk. Santa and his elf arrived in a decorated pedicab to lead the guests through Vail Village. At the end of the short walk, guests enjoyed the grand opening of the Vail Winterfest Ice and Light installation on the Gore Creek Promenade.
Ice & Light Installation
New this year, Art in Public Places collaborated with the award-winning creatives from Alt Ethos in Denver. The installation includes programmed LED lighting on the adjacent trees and pedestrian bridge illuminating the entire Gore Creek Promenade. Ice Sculptor Paul Wertin’s illuminated ice installation is reminiscent of stargazing around a campfire. The interactive ice sculptures allow for seating and enjoying the views both day and night. The combination of illuminated ice sculptures, snow, light, and the reflections upon Gore Creek created a radiant visual experience at this year’s Vail Winterfest.
Golf & Nordic Clubhouse
The interior enhancements continued at the Golf and Nordic Clubhouse with the installation of the entire set of posters from the Jerry R. Ford Invitational Golf Tournament. The images feature prominent celebrities, athletes, musicians, politicians and locals who participated in the tournament from 1977-1997. These historically significant posters, provided courtesy of Bill and Sally Hanlon, were digitally repaired and reproduced for display in the Gore Grill. Other interior enhancements included a large-scale photographic wall covering of the Gore Range from Piney Lake by local photographer Brendan Caffrey in the pro-shop. A large vibrant canvas by local painter Amy Dose depicting an abstraction of leaves is included in the first-floor foyer, as well as the inclusion of new furnishings.
Red Sandstone Elementary School Garage
Seattle-based artist John Fleming’s “Aspening of Vail” installation representing a grove of aspen trees flanking a passageway west of the new parking garage was installed during the spring. The artist visited the school in late October for a two-day workshop for 3rd grade students to incorporate their words and renderings 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 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.
Stickwork by Patrick Dougherty
The popular Stickwork installation by Patrick Dougherty remained on view throughout the year with some slight modifications to account for weathering.
Evenings of Engagement @ your library
Evenings of Engagement programming entertained and informed over 2,700 attendees in 2019. Programming included living history performances, chocolate making and woodworking projects in partnership with the Vail Recreation District, book talks and signings, Celtic & acoustic musicians and chamber music.
Healthy Lifestyle Series
Healthy Lifestyle offerings included: Gentle Yoga twice per week, meditation every Sunday morning, Zumba every Monday evening, Country Western Line Dance during the summer and fall, Walking/Skiing Book Club depending upon the season.
One Book, One Valley
The eighth year of the county-wide community reading initiative, One Book One Valley, kicked off revealing the title “The Last of the Menu Girls” by author Denise Chavez. From January through March, the library offered related programming. 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 the Common Cents for Colorado initiative by offering a 2-part series of classes on “Decluttering” and “Creating a Paper Trail for Your Heirs” at the library and at the Golden Eagle Senior Center (in partnership with 4 Eagle Senior Care). Also offered were “Personal Money Management” and “Identity Theft Prevention” classes for Vail Mountain School graduating seniors.
Outreach and Programming for Seniors
In partnership with Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, the library displayed a “Women Farmers” photographic exhibit by world-renowned National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson in the Community Room during the summer months and a monthly Summer Lecture Series was offered to complement the exhibit. The lectures offered the opportunity to learn from some of the greatest minds in agriculture, such as “Changing Ten Thousand Years of Agriculture - Crops with Roots” by Dr. Tim Crews; “An Evening of Cowboy Poetry” by Peggy Godfrey; “Eagle County’s Long Agricultural History” by Kathy Heicher; and “The People & History of Farming” by Jim Richardson. Also, in partnership with Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, the library offered several Horticultural Therapy programs for seniors from throughout the valley. Sensational & Super Seniors @ your library continued to offer engaging programs for seniors at the library during the spring/summer and at the Eagle River Presbyterian Church in the autumn/winter. Gentle Yoga continued to be offered to seniors in partnership with Caregiver Connections on Monday afternoons.
Children’s Services @ your library
New this year from Children's Services was introduction of an after-school enrichment program for elementary students, Kids Create! These activities included Robotics Club, Tech Studio, Reading Buddies and a new Lego Club. Also, the library’s educational partnership with Red Sandstone Elementary School entered its eighth year. This included monthly visits from students in grades K–2 and occasional visits from other classes attending both RSES and Vail Mountain School. Fourth grade students came to the library for a lesson offered by Eagle County Historical Society to support their study of Colorado History. For pre-school aged children, additional programming was added to the current schedule of story times with introduction of quarterly parties. Week of the Young Child, storybook princesses and Super Heros as well as Dia de los Ninos were celebrated. Staff also embarked on a more active role in partnership with Literacy Project of Eagle County. In its second year, “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. Community partners during the year included: Eagle County Historical Society, Eagle River Land Trust, Walking Mountains Science Center, Bravo! Vail, The Bookworm of Edwards, Eagle River Youth Coalition’s Girls in Science, Blue Moose Pizza, Bookworm of Edwards, Eagle Valley Library District and local public and private schools.
Bilingual Story Time
Bilingual story time was again offered on Saturday mornings, making it possible for working parents to attend. All activities – stories, songs, games and crafts are presented bilingually. The library also hosted an annual “Dia de los Niños/Dia de los Libros” party in April.
Books for Babies
The library’s Books for Babies & pediatric patients initiative, a collaboration with Vail Health Medical Center Foundation and their Women & Children’s Center, completed its sixth year thanks to the generosity of the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation in which bilingual baby books were given to all newborns.
Tech Studio (Vail Public Library MakerSpace)
The Wednesday and Thursday Open Studio sessions with the kids who love to explore 3D printing was offered. In addition to Open Studio hours, customers also booked appointments for a time more convenient for them. Staff continued to attend conferences in search of new innovations to add to this featured area.
Sustainable Practices @ your library
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 ninth 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 $391 in fines waived in exchange for the return of 150 overdue library items.
The library continued to evaluate the usability of its website at vaillibrary.com. Navigation tabs were added to the homepage to make information and services easier to find to make the library a more welcoming place digitally as well as physically.
Virtually Vail Digital Archives Initiative
The library’s digital archives continued to grow with the addition of oral histories and related photographs that bring the Voices of Vail - past, present and into the future - to the world through the library's online catalog. The library’s digital archive collection went live in 2018 through Marmot’s participation in the Digital Public Library of America.
Friends of Vail Public Library
This volunteer group of library advocates and volunteers raised funds for the library in a variety of ways during the year. The Annual 4thof July Book Sale and Bake Sale brought in over $1,600 and $1,000, respectively. The volunteer-run Book Nook at the library, which sells donated and used books year-round, raised over $3,000. In addition, the Friends of the Library received over $22,000 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 their budgeted services and resources.
35th Anniversary Celebration
The library’s 35th anniversary was recognized during the annual Champagne Celebration in March. The library opened its doors on July 4, 1983. 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.
An additional data center to better support the town’s critical technology infrastructure, first identified in 2014, was authorized during the year to be housed at Fire Station 3 in West Vail in conjunction with the Project THOR Meet Me Center commitment. The project also includes the re-purposing of some upstairs and downstairs areas of the station in to meet operational needs for both the Fire Department and Information Technology.
In March, the town launched a monthly podcast that focuses on the people, events, policies and activities occurring within the town. Hosted by Tony Mauro of the Rocky Mountain Radio Group, the goal of the Vail 8150 Podcast is to introduce listeners to the informative and unique stories about the work being done by those who contribute to the Vail community.
The town added its presence to the NextDoor social network during the year as an agency contributor, providing real-time alerts and updates to more than 400 subscribers.
Vail Local Housing Authority Meetings
The town, in partnership with High Five Access Media, expanded its regular video recordings of board and commission meetings with the addition of Vail Local Housing Authority proceedings in June. These meetings, along with recordings of Design Review Board, Planning and Environmental Commission and Vail Town Council are available for viewing on local cable Channel 5 and on demand from High Five Access Media.
A new hiking website was launched in August in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to make it easy to access information about area trails, including tips on how to enjoy the most popular trails as well as alternative hikes to avoid crowding. Creation of HikeVail.net was one of several actions resulting from an ongoing study between the town, White River National Forest and community representatives to address overcrowding issues at the trailheads in East Vail that lead directly into the Eagles Nest Wilderness.
To streamline its hiring process, the town hosted a unique Job Fair in September providing opportunities for applicants to apply and be interviewed – all in one stop. Positions were offered in parking, transit, police, fire and other departments to staff up for the winter season.
The town achieved the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association in 2019. The award recognizes exemplary budgeting practices among governmental entities in the U.S. and Canada. Approximately 8% of cities, towns and counties earn this award.
Vail InDEED Housing Program
The town’s innovative and bold approach to increasing the supply of resident housing through the Vail InDEED deed-restriction purchase program and the commitment to make the program a success was recognized by Housing Colorado, a state industry group in May. The program was named one of five outstanding programs in the state.
Housing Director George Ruther was selected as a recipient of the 2019 Eagle Award, presented annually by Housing Colorado, the industry association dedicated to serving professionals who are designing, developing and increasing support for affordable housing in Colorado. Ruther was chosen for his leadership in directing the town’s housing programs, including innovative Vail InDEED program.
Chamonix Vail Neighborhood
The Chamonix Vail Neighborhood development in West Vail was the recipient of the Modular Building Institute Award of Distinction in 2019 for its innovation, excellence and cost-effective housing.
Vail America Days Grand Marshals
Sally and Bill Hanlon, longtime community members, served as grand marshals for the Vail America Days parade on July 4. The theme was a Tribute to the 10th Mountain Division.
Public Safety Recognition Awards
In September, the Tri-Club Eagle County Rotary Clubs recognized dispatchers and first responders in the county for providing exceptional service. The following awards were presented to members of Vail’s public safety responders:
- Unit Citations for Meritorious Service to Troy Brown and Rebecca Pacheco
- Medal of Valor to Lt. Scott Bridges
National Roundabouts Week
In September, the town was recognized by the Federal Highway Administration during National Roundabouts Week for helping to pioneer modern roundabouts in the U.S. The roundabouts at Val’s Town Center were the first roundabouts to be built at an interchange in America.
Board and Commission Appointments (2018)
Board and Commission appointments during the year included: John-Ryan Lockman, Bill Gillette, Karen Perez and Pete Seibert Jr. to the Planning and Environmental Commission; Doug Cahill, Pete Cote and Kit Austin to the Design Review Board; Margaret Rogers and Susan Bristol to the Art in Public Places Board; Bob McKown and Meghan Del Sole to the Vail Local Licensing Authority; James Wilkins to the Vail Housing Authority; Kim Rediker, Samantha Biszantz and Jill Lau to the Vail Commission on Special Events; Amy Moser Harrison, Laurie Mullen, Erica Cannava, and Jana Morgan to the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council; and Steve Loftus, Kyle Webb and Rollie Kjesbo to the Building and Fire Codes Appeals Board.
Thomas ‘TJ’ Johnson was hired as director of Information Technology in February. Johnson, a 30-year resident of the valley, was formerly senior IT manager for Vail Resorts.
International Fire Internship
The Fire Department entered into a unique partnership with the University of Bordeaux in Southern France when it hosted an exchange student in the spring who completed an internship in emergency services. During her internship, Marion Bardeau lived in the fire station and observed Vail’s methods of firefighting and delivery of other emergency services.
Jeremy Gross joined the Economic Development Department as special event coordinator, while Liz Gladitsch was hired as marketing specialist.
In all, the town welcomed 134 new hires during the year, filling posts in the police and fire departments, administrative positions, as well as seasonal jobs and part-time jobs. Among them: Albert Zamora, Human Resources manager; Greg Roy, planner II; Omar Jimenez, systems engineer; Jason Boylan, systems engineer/evidence tech; and Beth Markham, environmental sustainability coordinator.
40 Year Anniversaries
Three employees celebrated 40 years of employment with the town: Judge Buck Allen, Donald Gallegos and Mike Rose.
Vail Public Safety Communications Center
After 18 years working at Vail Public Safety Communications Center, Jennifer Kirkland was hired as the 9-1-1 Center Manager at Grand Junction Regional Communications Center. While in Vail, Jennifer served most recently as the 911 Operations Administrator, responsible for the new hire training program, continuing education, policy and procedure oversight, and the quality assurance program.
The community said goodbye to one of Vail’s legendary pioneers when Pepi Gramshammer passed away in August at the age of 87. He is survived by his wife Sheika, daughters Kira and Sheika, and two grandsons. During a memorial service in September, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced the creation of Pepi Gramshammer Day that will be celebrated annually on Sept. 20 across the state.
Sandy Treat never missed an opportunity to share his experiences as a member of the 10th Mountain Division, appearing regularly at the Colorado Snowsports Museum and as a special guest during the 10th Mountain Parade celebrations. His appearances continued until his death in September at the age of 96.
Jake Burton Carpenter
The soul of snowboarding, Jake Burton Carpenter died in November following complications from recurring cancer. Carpenter was a close friend of Vail having moved his US Open Snowboarding Championships from Stowe to Vail for added exposure.
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