The Town of Vail extends its thanks to everyone who attended the Open Lands Plan workshop on Feb. 22 at the Grand View. The objectives of the workshop were to review the results of the three community scoping sessions held earlier this winter and hold small group discussions to obtain feedback on the direction of the update of the Open Lands Plan with respect to land acquisitions, trails and the use of town lands. During the workshop, town staff noted comments similar to the community scoping sessions; however the opportunity was afforded to provide more in-depth discussion.
Land acquisitions continue to be supported for the purposes of public benefit and environmental protection, particularly of Gore Creek. When defining parameters for protection of sensitive environmental resources participants noted that the town’s role should be to protect wildlife from the population (i.e., trash, road impacts, etc.), to improve water quality, prevent pollution including light and noise and promote the protection of biodiversity throughout the community. Many questions were posed on the impacts of pesticides, fertilizers and road maintenance activities such as magnesium chloride and road cinders on the environment.
Participants continued to oppose a land swap with the U.S. Forest Service and remained split on how and where housing challenges should be addressed. Some felt that the private sector should address housing entirely, while others felt that town employees should be a focus of the town’s housing program, and that open space should still be prioritized over affordable housing.
Trails continue to be considered a public benefit by all; however participants noted that in planning additional trails, the town should consider the impact on flora and fauna, geological impacts such as rockfall, and accommodating different user groups. Mitigation may be possible through education, signage, alternating days of use and proper trail design. Discussion amongst the groups centered around types of trails needed, and how Vail compares to other communities down valley as well as other resort communities. Some out-of-the-box ideas were discussed including gondola transport and partnerships with Vail Resorts to improve uphill trail access and use on Vail Mountain. Neighborhood connecting and accessible trails were supported by the majority of the group, as well as improved maintenance and stewardship of existing trails.
Participants support continued acquisition of land for designated open space, as well as the preservation of the Middle Bench of Donovan Park for that purpose. Additional requests for public facilities included a performing arts center, pool and an expansion of Dobson Ice Arena. Wildlife crossings as well as protection of the moose habitat/population were also discussed.
Staff is assembling comments and developing a work plan, as well as reaching out to the Technical Expert Group to explore these community ideas. The next community meeting will be held in the next several months, and an update to Town Council will be taking place during the afternoon meeting on March 21.
We look forward to your continued participation in the Vail Open Lands Plan Update. For comments and suggestions about the process, please contact Suzanne Silverthorn in the Community Information Office at 970-479-2115.