Preserving charm, leading the marketplace'

Vail Town Council questionnaire - Mark Gordon

Daily Staff Report
October 25, 2005

1. Why are you running for Vail Town Council?

I know this sounds cheesy but I love it here. Vail is an amazing place and I want to do my part to make it even better. My wife and I have always been involved citizens and now I have the opportunity to help improve the quality of life for all the members of our community. It is a large responsibility but I feel that I'm up to the challenge. This is where we've decided to raise our family, and I truly believe I can have a positive impact on the town.

2. What are the biggest issues facing Vail right now?

Managing the development and growth of our community is the largest issue facing us right now. We need strong leaders who want to move our town forward in a responsible manner that recognizes and respects the past, but isn't afraid of the future. Vail must face the economic realities but do so in our own unique way. We must preserve our small town charm, but still be the leader in the vacation marketplace. If we make sure that Vail is a great place to live and raise a family, it will remain a great destination for our part-time residents and our guests.

3. What are Vail's greatest strengths and weaknesses?

Our strength is the members of our community. We have a very educated and informed citizenry and I believe the town council needs to do a better job of listening to their constituents.

As for weaknesses: We need to move away from a seasonal economy and more toward a four-season economy. An essential part of maintaining a viable and sustainable town that relies predominantly on sales tax is to minimize the down seasons.

4. What is your position on the proposed conference center? Why?

The decision to build the conference center is once again in front of the voters. If we vote no then this is not the time to build a conference center. But if we vote yes then it is the council's responsibility to make the project a success. Before moving to Vail I spent a decade running my own company in the conference industry. I know what it takes to make a successful conference center and I will do everything in my power to ensure that Vail's conference center is financially successful for the town and our business community.

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 plan just as the Planning and Environmental Commission voted on it. The process worked up until the council tried to micro-manage it. The PEC made recommendations to the developer and the project was greatly improved. If the council had listened to their "experts" and to the majority of the community, Crossroads would be under construction right now. We would have three new movie theaters, a public plaza, a bowling alley, an arcade, two levels of diverse retail space and more parking being built as you read this. Unfortunately, these amenities are not under construction.

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?

Vail needs more than just new buildings and streetscape. We need a renewal of leadership. Our leaders must always keep the big picture in mind when approving new development. All new developments must make Vail a better place for the locals and for our guests. We need to make sure that all development is environmentally friendly. And we have to insist that there will be plenty of affordable housing opportunities in the West Vail redevelopment as well as the Timber Ridge project. Vail can't afford to become an adult gated community.

7. This year's community survey shows residents said parking is the top issue facing the town. How would you deal with this issue?

Parking is a problem ... but it is a good problem to have. It means Vail is popular. But we obviously need more parking capacity. I'd like to see the parking task force continue to move forward and recommend a solution. I think it is important for the town to make sure that all new development has adequate parking.

8. Does Vail need to be more welcoming to middle-class families? If yes, how?

I believe that if Vail is a great place to raise a family, live and work then it is a great place for our guests to visit. We need the amenities that our guests and our locals want. These include movie theaters, a bowling alley, public skating, a public pool and rec center and family-oriented retail. We must insist that the West Vail master plan and the Timber Ridge project include a large amount of affordable housing for families. Both of these projects could give us enough space to be home to 1,500 new full-time residents If we can do that, then Vail is a new town.

9. Ask and answer your own question that will help voters decide how to vote.

The environment is an important piece of the Vail puzzle. What will you do if elected that will help preserve and improve the environment and therefore the quality of life of all members of the Vail Community?

It is time for Vail to take some dramatic steps towards energy independence and sustainability. We need to look at biodiesel for our bus fleet. More hybrid buses and possibly a more robust bus schedule in the off-season. We should take advantage of the amount of creeks we have here and investigate installing micro-hydro generators. With 300 days of sunshine per year we need to expedite the approval process for solar panels on town buildings and private structures. With the passage of Amendment 37, there are real dollars available for Vail to become an alternative energy producer and achieve energy independence.

Vail, Colorado