Finding a place for
Vail Town Council candidate questionnaire
- Dick Cleveland
Daily Staff Report
October 23, 2005
1. Why are you running for Vail Town Council?
Four years ago I wanted to be part of the solution to the problems
facing the Town of Vail. Two of those issues, Donovan Pavilion and the
Vail Center, were issues as divisive as Crossroads and the conference
center are today. Sept. 11 had just occurred and the local economy was
in a slump. During the last four years the council has actively
addressed those and other issues. Donovan Pavilion was built and
Vail's Renaissance has commenced. The conference center remains
unresolved pending the election outcome. I would like the opportunity
to see current projects through to completion.
2. What are the biggest issues facing Vail right now?
The primary issue is managing the unprecedented growth and
redevelopment that the private sector has shown a willingness to bring
to our town. Vail's Renaissance, originally proposed at over a billion
dollars in redevelopment activity, has actually grown well beyond
that. A master plan for the West Vail commercial area is under way and
is critical to our successful redevelopment. The West Vail fire
station must be built and we need to find the revenue to staff it.
Timber Ridge needs to be redeveloped in the near future. The voters'
decision on the Conference Center will guide our actions there.
3. What are Vail's greatest strengths and weaknesses?
Our greatest weakness is our inability to provide sufficient
affordable housing to bring the working locals back to town to live,
especially our middle management people and their families. People
want the "American dream" and the economics of Vail's real estate
market works against that.
Our greatest strength is our ability to face adversity and overcome
challenges. Following the tragedy of Sept. 11, the council made
significant budget cuts without sacrificing service. We weathered an
economic downturn and had the foresight to plan Vail's public
infrastructure improvements while encouraging private developers to
make similar investments in their properties.
4. What is your position on the proposed Conference Center? Why?
Although I would love to see a conference center in Vail, I don't
believe that the current proposal is economically viable. Between 2003
and 2005 the projected construction cost of the building ballooned
from $35-$40 million, then $50-$57 million, finally landing at $64
million. Because of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, material costs are
rising. Cost overruns should be expected.
Proponents estimate annual operating losses of $900,000 to $1.2
million. I am concerned that these numbers are based on overly
optimistic revenue projections. Operating deficits will likely be
higher. I question the risk the Vail taxpayer is asked to shoulder.
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 support the redevelopment of Crossroads but did not support the
proposed plan. My primary objection was the amount of gross
residential floor area (GRFA) allotted to for-sale condominiums. The
proposed GRFA was more then four times that allowed by underlying
zoning. As a result of this deviation, the building height at the East
Meadow Drive plaza was over 113 feet (11 stories). That would be 50
feet taller than Crossroads' new neighbor across Meadow Drive. The
proposal was out of character with the neighborhood and would
negatively impact the fabric of Vail Village. A reasonable reduction
in GRFA would have adequately reduced the building height.
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 would stay the course that the current council has followed for the
past four years. We began the renewal, Vail's Renaissance, by
implementing the Vail Village and East Meadow Drive streetscape
projects on public property. Other private developers have since
brought their projects in for redevelopment. We must continue to make
our redevelopment as invisible as possible to our visitors and
businesses. The preservation of our natural environment must be given
equal consideration to our economic development. Mother Nature is what
brought all of us here and she will continue to bring our guests if we
7. This year's community survey shows residents said parking is the
top issue facing the town. How would you deal with this issue?
The primary parking complaint concerned construction workers using the
Village structure. The council has initiated a new plan to relocate
construction-related parking from the Village to the Lionshead
structure where there is adequate space Monday through Thursday. As
requested, additional pay stations have been installed. Winter parking
mitigation plans should be required of all future development
projects. The council negotiated a $4.3 million dollar payment from
Vail Resorts to build additional public parking. If the Conference
Center is approved, this additional parking will be added to the
Lionshead Structure. These parking funds remain available should the
8. Does Vail need to be more welcoming to middle-class families? If
Absolutely! To that end the Town Council (since 2003) annually
allocates $100,000 for an affordable housing buy-down program. Unused
money from that fund is rolled forward year to year. The town recently
contributed to the Eagle County Down Payment Assistance Fund and the
town assists its own employees with low-cost loans. The Town Council
purchased the Hud Wirth property in West Vail and is currently master
planning the site to include for-sale affordable housing. I believe
the target market for any new housing should be middle management and
9. Ask and answer your own question that will help voters decide how
Has the current Vail Town Council done enough to encourage Vail's
economic rebirth? If not, how would you improve upon what has been
done in the past?
The current council has done an outstanding job of leading Vail's
Renaissance. In the public sector, we took an active role in refining
and implementing the streetscape master plans for both Vail Village
and East Meadow Drive. We built Donovan Pavilion, the Whitewater Park,
expanded the capacity of Dobson Arena and purchased Timber Ridge. This
council has approved many private development projects. A partial list
includes: Arabelle, Four Seasons (special development district), Vail
Plaza Hotel SDD, Tivoli Lodge SDD, Vail Gateway SDD, Manor Vail SDD,
the Gore Creek Town Homes, "The Ruins" SDD, the Front Door Project
re-zoning, and Middle Creek.