'Long-timers made Vail
great, new generation is its destiny'
Vail Town Council candidate questionnaire
- Robert Aikens
Daily Staff Report
October 23, 2005
1. Why are you running for Vail Town Council?
Small businesses in Vail need a voice on the Town Council. As owner of
Verbatim Booksellers, I have the same worries, doubts and concerns as
many other local business owners about surviving through all the
construction and through the off-seasons. We need to make sure that
our unique small businesses survive so that Vail will survive. I also
want to provide Vail with a bridge between the longtime locals who
made Vail great and this newer generation who will take charge of
Vail's destiny. I feel we can both respect the past and look to the
2. What are the biggest issues facing Vail right now?
Economic development is a major issue. Included in that are the issues
of Crossroads and the conference center. We need to find a way to turn
Vail's businesses into vibrant, year-round cash cows. That includes
providing local businesses with the support they need, not standing in
their way. Vail needs a diverse collection of retail businesses that
attract shoppers. We should be encouraging locals to "buy Vail first,"
to reinvest their money into the local economy before they shop online
or drive elsewhere. Then there's the West Vail fire station, which has
been on hold for 20 years despite the obvious threat of fire all
3. What are Vail's greatest strengths and weaknesses?
Vail is the best place in the world to live. Our strengths are our
scenery and our people. Vail does a great job of using its beautiful
natural surroundings to its advantage, turning the town into a
world-class destination area. Vail has made sure that people all over
the world want to come to our town. Our citizens are full of energy
and a desire to make their hometown the best it can be. Vail's
weakness is figuring out how to be both a town and a resort. It is a
delicate balance, one that we must re-evaluate constantly. That
town/resort duality is what makes Vail a unique community. We need to
turn it into one of our strengths.
4. What is your position on the proposed conference center? Why?
I will vote yes on the conference center. As a small business owner, I
am excited about the prospect of increasing off-season business. As of
now, like many local business owners in retail, dining and
hospitality, I constantly worry about being able to pay my bills in
the spring and fall. It is such a challenge to run a business in a
resort community, and businesses can no longer solely rely on winter
sales to carry them through the rest of the year. Businesses should be
deciding how much staff they will employ in the off-seasons, not
whether or not to stay open.
5. The planning commission unanimously endorsed a plan for
redevelopment of the Crossroads complex in Vail Village earlier this
year. Do you support that plan, and, if not, what specific changes
would have to be made to this plan to make it acceptable?
I spoke in favor of that plan during the Town Council vote. The
failure of the current Town Council was not in rejecting that plan,
however, but in failing to make sure an acceptable alternative was
reached. Vail is in the middle of a major redevelopment, so the time
to begin construction on Crossroads is now. I have spoken with many
people on both sides of this issue. The problem is nobody is talking
to each other. Vail needs something done at Crossroads, and it needs
to be taken care of soon. I see a solution on the horizon.
6. Redevelopment is under way in Vail Village and Lionshead, and major
redevelopment is planned in West Vail and West Lionshead. How would
you seek to influence this development?
I will make sure these developments are in Vail's long-term interests,
and not just a way for the developers to make a quick buck. What that
means is I want to make sure the plans are in line with where Vail
wants to go. I'm looking for a combination of retail, office and
residential spaces that include affordable housing. I'm looking for it
to be pedestrian friendly. Most importantly, I want it to add to the
character of Vail, not take away from it.
7. This year's community survey shows residents said parking is the
top issue facing the town. How would you deal with this issue?
Many of the projects underway will help alleviate the parking problem
by providing more available underground spaces. One of the benefits of
the Crossroad's plan was that it offered a significant amount of extra
parking beyond what the town required. We should continue to require
new projects to incorporate a set-amount of parking in their plans. We
also need to look at a Beaver Creek-style plan where we would have a
free parking lot farther away from the mountain with a free shuttle
bus between the parking lot and the mountain.
8. Does Vail need to be more welcoming to middle class families? If
As I said, one of Vail's greatest strengths is its people. The problem
is we are losing young families. They are choosing to live downvalley
or out of Eagle County entirely. We want to bring families back, not
only to visit Vail, but to live in Vail. Vail will always be
attractive to the wealthiest in the world, but we should make sure we
don't price out the locals. If we can retain middle-class families, we
will have that year-round vitality that we are seeing in Edwards and
Eagle. We will retain a valuable workforce. We will improve business.
We will keep Vail a fun, energetic place.
9. Ask and answer your own question that will help voters decide how
A fire station in West Vail was proposed in the early '80s. It has yet
to be built. What is your take on the proposed fire station and why?
The time is now to build a fire station in West Vail. This fire
station has been in the plans for many years. We can wait no longer.
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the recent forest fires in Summit and
Garfield counties are wake-up calls. A fire in Vail would devastate
not only our economy, but the beautiful valley we all cherish. With
all the dead and dying lodgepole pines, the risk of fire is just too
great to wait.