by Dave Chapin
Thank goodness for Vail Time! I can be running an errand at the post office, the grocery store or strolling down Bridge Street when moments later I’m greeted by a neighbor or an acquaintance from years ago. Soon a heartfelt conversation is underway that usually finds its way into a question or comment about our local politics. Before you know it, I’m running late for my next appointment and no one seems to mind. It’s the way we do things around here. We’re an international resort that thrives in welcoming thousands of guests each day, yet the very essence of our livelihood is rooted in our love of community and our relationships with one another. The bond that connects us was especially apparent during our 50th birthday gathering last summer and it’s my hope that we can all find time to come together again when we honor Vi and Bryon Brown as recipients of the Vail Trailblazer Award on March 14 at Donovan Pavilion.
Since the beginning, Vi and Byron have demonstrated their passion for our community through their many civic-minded initiatives that continue to endure today, most notably the Community Fund and Ski Club Vail. As we celebrate the accomplishments of Vi and Byron during our Annual Community Meeting Tuesday, we’ll also take time to acknowledge other community members who have found ways to rise to the occasion when called upon. This includes the voluntary service offered by our many Board and Commission members who work tirelessly to draw upon the framework of our regulatory codes and guidelines to help maintain a vibrant community.
Appointed by the Town Council, these 40-plus Board and Commission members come together on a regular basis to share their knowledge and expertise in their respective roles on the Vail Local Housing Authority, Planning and Environmental Commission, Design Review Board, Building and Fire Codes Appeals Board, Vail Local Licensing Authority, Art in Public Places, Commission on Special Events and Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council. While their work may go largely unnoticed, their decisions and recommendations forwarded to the Town Council provide the checks and balances that are essential in shaping the community as we know it.
Of course, it goes without saying that a high caliber staff has been essential in producing the significant results we’ve seen over the years. We’ve been fortunate to have Stan Zemler serve as our town manager for the past 13 years as he’s successfully guided us through the peaks and valleys of Vail’s revitalization and the recession. As Stan prepares to leave his post at the end of the month, we’ll be recognizing his many accomplishments Tuesday and we invite you to stop by to wish him well.
We’ll also take time to report on the state of the town which continues to be driven by a combination of conservative budgeting and healthy reserves to protect this community from any unforeseen circumstances. In addition, we’ll reflect on activities completed during the past year which has included upgrades to our recreational facilities including the new Vail Golf & Nordic Clubhouse, Zeke M. Pierce Skatepark and new pickleball courts at Golden Peak. Significant renovations to the East Vail Fire Station have also been undertaken which completes a multi-year public safety facilities plan.
As we look to the future, we’ll share progress reports on the new townhomes at Chamonix Vail, renovations at Red Sandstone Elementary School, Gore Creek water quality, the update to the Open Lands Plan, the final phase of the I-70 Vail underpass construction, forthcoming recommendations from the Vail Parking and Transportation Task Force, renewed development activity by the private sector as well as a commitment to allocate sufficient master planning resources to be used to help shape the future of West Vail. We’ll also provide an update on our search for a new town manager and ways you can become involved in meeting the finalists.
While we have much more work ahead of us, we’re committed to taking action on the difficult topics that come before us. Our decisions will incorporate the thoughtful work undertaken by our Boards and Commissions as well as an assessment of our community input. With the topics of housing, open lands, environment and parking identified as areas of focus by this Town Council, attendance at our open houses, workshops and other public meetings has shown that community members care deeply about Vail and are willing to spend the time to share their ideas about how best to move this community forward - something Vi and Byron Brown know all to well. We hope to see you Tuesday.
The Town of Vail Annual Community meeting takes place from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 14 at Donovan Pavilion. The event is free and light refreshments will be served.