04/21/14

Vail Recreation District:  Candidates responses to VHA questions. 

VRD Candidates:  Please respond to the following questions.  Your responses "in your own words" will be posted to the VHA Website and distributed by email to our constituents.   A link to a webpage containing the responses of all candidates has been created.   A "Word" document is attached for your convenience.  Please email your response to vha@vail.net

Thank you for your participation.

1.  How would you improve the working relationship with the residential neighborhood that surrounds the Golf Clubhouse and its proposed indoor and outdoor event facilities?

2.  What changes might you make to change the organization and operation of the VRD to insure that it functions within its revenue limitations and the services that its charter allows?  

3.  How and why are you qualified to serve as a member of the VRD Board of Directors?

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Candidates Responses Below:

Received:  Kim Newbury, Kevin Forley, Tom Saalfeld, Penny Turilli, Robert Oppenheimer

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04/23/14 1:06 PM
Kim Newbury:
1.  How would you improve the working relationship with the residential neighborhood that surrounds the Golf Clubhouse and its proposed indoor and outdoor event facilities? 

The Town of Vail and Vail Recreation District have adopted an Operations Plan, with the specific intent "to provide the community with a clear understanding of how the Clubhouse will be operated and to outline specific measures intended to minimize the impacts of the Clubhouse on the immediate neighborhood".  The Plan includes instructions/directions on how to manage/operate the Golfer's Grill and Banquet Space, specifies how Golf Carts will be used and stored, how parking and parking management will occur, as well as outlining specific allowable operating hours and limits on lighting and noise.  The Plan also includes a section for "Neighbor Relations" which requires the operator (in this case, VRD) to create a calendar of events on their website so that any neighbor can quickly get information about upcoming events.  VRD must also designate a staff member as neighborhood liaison, and that person is responsible for maintaining an email list which is to be used for updates about the Clubhouse.  In addition, VRD must hold a meeting at least once a year to solicit feedback from neighbors and concerned citizens.  As a member of the Board, I would work to be sure that VRD abides by all of the requirements of the Plan, but would also insist that the organization goes above and beyond the requirements in the first few years.  I would expect the VRD staff member acting as neighborhood liaison to hold, at a minimum, quarterly meetings for updates and feedback.  I would also ask that the staff liaison conduct a very concerted "participation drive" to be sure that all of the neighbors know how to join the email list and know exactly whom to contact with concerns.

2.  What changes might you make to the organization and operation of the VRD to insure that it functions within its revenue limitations and the services that its charter allows?  

As I would expect of any responsible Board member, I would scrutinize the finances on a regular basis to be sure that the organization was operating within budgetary restrictions.  I would spend time closely reviewing the budget during its annual creation to help find areas for cost savings.  The part of the question about "the services that its charter allows" is interesting.  The original Service Plan of the District was created with the intent to serve around 40 full time residents.  It addresses services that the District will provide (golf, tennis, and fishing).  However, as I understand it, the Service Plan does not exclude the Recreation District from providing additional services beyond golf, tennis, and fishing.  The needs of the members of the District have clearly changed and grown over the years, and I think that the Vail Recreation District has done an excellent job of adding programs and services that meet the needs and desires of its stakeholders.  The organization's programs/services currently function within the revenue limitations of the annual budget.  The main financial problem facing the District is not in funding daily operations within its revenue limitations, but instead is in finding how to fund capital improvement projects for aging facilities - recognizing that property taxes (the main source of revenue for the District) fell precipitously in 2012 and have not come close to recovering to the earlier level.  The VRD must work closely with its partners, specifically the Town of Vail, to prioritize capital projects and to find ways to fund those with the highest priority.   

3.  How and why are you qualified to serve as a member of the VRD Board of Directors?

The VRD has financial issues to address over the next few years, and will need Board members who have experience and understanding of how to manage a budget for a community organization.  I served on Vail Town Council for 8 years (2 years as Mayor Pro Tem) and thus have garnered extensive experience on how to make important budgeting decisions for a community.  During my time on the Council, the Town did not just "weather" the downturn in the economy, but in fact the Town emerged in excellent financial health with a very strong reserve fund and balanced budgets every year.  We made annual decisions to prioritize capital projects, and in return the Town got numerous new facilities such as the Gymnastics Center, the West Vail Fire Station, the new and improved Pirate Ship and Red Sandstone Parks, and the Lionshead Information Center.  I am proud of my time on Vail Town Council and of the expertise and knowledge I learned from that experience, and I believe my experience and viewpoint will be helpful to the Board. 

In addition to that experience, my family and I also have personally taken advantage of many of the recreational opportunities and programs offered by the VRD, including golf, tennis, Nordic skiing, running races, Keen Kids' Adventure Race, trick-or-treating, Easter egg-hunting, Camp Vail, KidZone Afterschool, and  gymnastics (just to name a few).  It is my belief that it is difficult to make decisions for an organization without having experienced what the organization is about.  Having participated in so many of the programs, I think I have an excellent handle on how the VRD operates and what it does for our community and would help to make reasonable and beneficial decisions for VRD stakeholders.
I have also served on numerous committees and boards in Vail and other local communities, including on the Vail Local Housing Authority (2001 - 2013), the Vail Economic Advisory Council (2010 - present), Vail Valley Partnership Merchant Alliance (2012 - present), and the Riverwalk Master Association Board of Directors (2012 - present).  I am currently the General Manager of Inn & Suites at Riverwalk and am responsible for 20+ employees, operations and budgeting for the hotel, as well as management of 2 commercial homeowners associations.  All of these experiences have enriched my knowledge of managing sizable budgets and about compiling information to make good decisions for business entities and communities.   

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04/23/14 1:30 PM

Kevin Foley:

1. We should sit down with our neighbors and agree on an operations plan that takes into consideration the desires of the homeowners with the realities of the facilityís daily operations. Both sides must respect the process and learn to live with each other as good neighbors tend to do.

2. If elected I would review the VRDís finances and operations with respect to the charter and proceed from there. I cannot speculate on specific changes I might help to initiate with my fellow board members until I/we look at our overall operations.

3. I have been a resident/registered voter of Vail for 34 years with numerous commitments to the community including 14 years on the Vail town council; 21 years as a volunteer basketball coach at Red Sandstone Elementary school; 19 years as event chair/co-chair for the Taste of Vail Mountain Top picnic and 24 years participating in the Childrenís Hospital Courage Classic fundraiser.

Thanks Jim, please give me a call at 476-2718 should you have any further questions. All the best, Kevin

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 Tom Saalfeld

4/23/14 4:43 PM

 

#1 working relationship with neighborhood

I believe in an open line of communication.  I would invite all interested golf course neighbors to attend the VRD meetings.  Also they can visit the VRD web site to look at the meetings agendas and board packets.  If elected to the VRD Board I would seek out golf course neighbors to try and understand their concerns and give them a voice in this Clubhouse proposal.  I own and have operated a property management company in Vail since 1986.  I have learned over the years that it is best to be inclusive in these matters.

#2 changes to the VRD organization

It is important that the VRD operates pursuant to fiscally sound principles guided by objective decision makers.  When I served on the board 2000-2004 the golf course was very profitable.  Last year I am told it lost close to $100,000.  The reasons for this decline have to be investigated and decisions need to be made on fees and services such as staffing.  The district is reporting a $1.8 million shortfall for capital expenditures over the next few years because of the decline in property tax revenue due to lower assessed values.  Currently the district makes enough money through taxes and fees to fund current programing and operations but it also needs to upgrade and improve fields and facilities and equipment through capital improvements.  The new board needs to identify, address and eliminate the budget shortfall so it can continue the services that its charter allows

 #3 Qualifications to serve as a member of the VRD Board

As a former member of the VRD Board from 2000-2004 I am familiar with the VRD programing, facilities and staff.  This knowledge and experience will be valuable to the district should I be elected to the Board.  As an owner of a property management company in Vail I manage buildings worth hundreds of millions of dollars.  I create budgets and then operate within those budgets.  I have the passion and desire to face the tough challenges ahead.  Serving the district is my way to contribute to our community

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Penny Turilli     4/24/14 9:23 AM

 

1. How would you improve the working relationship with the

residential neighborhood that surrounds the Golf Clubhouse

and its proposed indoor and outdoor event facilities?

 

It is all about communication. The residents in Vail need to

speak up and get involved in the process, earlier the better. I

live next to Booth Creek Park. The town is currently working

with the local residents surrounding the park to give us an

opportunity to have input. I intend to be at the meeting

representing myself and other neighbors who will not be able

to attend. Itís up to us to attend the meetings and let them

know what we want as homeowners in this neighborhood.

My understanding is that the clubhouse litigation has been

settled by the court. I think it would be great for the town

and the residents to get together and work out a plan that will

be equally beneficial. The Town of Vail won the litigation

but we still need to find some common ground with all

homeowners. I donít think it would be a sign of weakness for

the town to approach the residents and offer them the

opportunity to have input in how the facility will be utilized.

I think it would show how strong our community actually is

and begin to bridge a stronger partnership with all

homeowners.

 

2. What changes might you make to the organization and

operation of the VRD to insure that it functions within its

revenue limitations and the services that its charter allows?

 

Iíd like to see programming expand in a responsible way. It

is important to keep in mind the physical limitations of the

budget and the facilities that we run our programs out of. We

have an amazing natural beauty of our mountain and our town

and bringing in more recreational events we will bring more

visitors to enjoy our amazing town.

 

3. How and why are you qualified to serve as a member of the

VRD Board of Directors?

 

I have a Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Sports

Science with a concentration in Wellness. I served for

several years on Booth Creek Townhomeís Board of

Directors. I was instrumental communicating with all

owners regarding a massive facelift of all of the units. I am

also a mother of two school-aged children who are active

participants with many of VRDís programs. I am also a

part-time employee of VRD and have a unique perspective

that other candidates do not have on the inner workings of

VRD. Furthermore VRD has been an active part of my life

for the last 20 years in Vail.

 

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Oppenheimer Robert:  04/25/14  11:26 AM

 

1.  How would you improve the working relationship with the residential neighborhood that surrounds the Golf Clubhouse and its proposed indoor and outdoor event facilities?

 

To improve the relationship with the surrounding residents, I would continue doing what I have already started.  I would communicate the way that everybody should have been communicating from the beginning. 

I keep saying that community, by definition, requires compromise, cooperation and by all means - communication.

Maybe that sounds like a political slogan to some, but I believe it!

If I wanted to be another anonymous resident in a meaningless neighborhood, I would live in a place where I had no voice in matters of public concern.  I choose to be here, where I can pick up the phone, or knock on doors and speak to people who are involved in issues that matter to me.

Vail is a terrific place to live.  The people that live here have resources that include vast experiences and knowledge that have made them successful in the world.

 

The golf course residents spent their time and money to draw up plans in an effort to find a solution that would satisfy everybody.  Thatís a tremendous effort that needs to be commended.  At the same time, to the credit of the VRD, they were simply designing a way to improve the clubhouse facility without increasing mill-levy taxes, creating the need for special funding, or raising usage fees for the building.

 

I have spent a great deal of time on this issue in an effort to understand whom, or what went wrong.  I expected to find a ďbad guyĒ in the mix Ė someone who got greedy or someone who was unreasonable.  That is not what I found.

Instead, I found a lot of reasonable plans that were not communicated well.

 

Everybody has valid ideas, issues and resolutions to reaching the common goal of rebuilding a dangerously dilapidated building. We (as a community) just need to find the middle ground that satisfies everybody involved.  It can happen!

There is an option to hold a formal mediation as a way to find middle ground in this issue.  I think that the facts could be reviewed at such a meeting and a resolution could be found. 

 

I have reached out to everybody I could, met with them and learned answers to many of my questions.  I have created an email for those who donít have time to meet or speak on the phone: bob.vrdtalk@gmail.com

 

A simple answer to this question is this:

A round-table type of open exchange and genuine compromise has to be the method of communicating for publicly funded projects, from this point forward.  Simply holding an open-to-the-public meeting to discuss issues is not enough.  This is a special interest organization that needs to make an extra effort to involve the public for cooperative decision-making.

 

2.  What changes might you make to the organization and operation of the VRD to insure that it functions within its revenue limitations and the services that its charter allows?  

 

The Rec District will always have to work within the confines of the revenue that it collects from property taxes. There will never be a surplus of funds to fulfill our every wish.  We are facing some lean years financially, while simultaneously needing to address capital expenditures from facilities or mechanical devices that have reached the end of their useable life.

The district has to operate more efficiently than before, but that is just a function of good management.  We have some opportunities to fill gaps in our operations that answer some demands from the public, so that they donít find something else down valley.

 

The community programming above the Vail welcome center in Lionshead is proving to be very successful.  The various programs for both adults and children are meeting demands for our residents.  We need to find more opportunities like these, to fill the needs of residents and visitors while they are in Vail. There is more room to make some money and enhance our town by using facilities that we already have in more efficient ways. I have been researching ideas for ways to use the Gymnastic building during the day when it sits idle until 3:00 in the afternoon.  Multiple uses for existing facilities are a better utilization of our tax dollars.

 

Iím good at thinking outside of the box, but honestly, Iím simply speaking to the public and listening to their needs and ideas.  We all want to keep families in Vail.  Itís the VRD board of directorsí job to find ways to make that happen.  The board should work as a special interest group that enhances the town and eases the burden of the town council.

I am acting now, the way that I will act if elected Ė I am communicating with the public and listening to their issues and ideas.  This needs to be the way of life for the board.  Collect information and create buy-in around new ideas that keep us moving forward.

 

3.  How and why are you qualified to serve as a member of the VRD Board of Directors?

 

My education and my work experiences are all over the map.  I have created and re-created myself over the years, so that I could continue living in Vail.

As it turns out, all of the skills that Iíve picked up along the way can be focused when I need to make things happen. 

I understand what it takes to make a business work and where to turn when I need answers.  My compassion for others gives me the benefit of seeing issues through other peopleís eyes, so that I can understand what it takes to find resolution.

I have been around enough construction to know what to look for so that a project stays inside of a predetermined budget. And I have used all of these experiences to get answers to the clubhouse project as well as finding more public input that will increase revenues by meeting our taxpayerís demands.

 

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Connie Miller:  4/29/14   10:38 AM

 

1.  How would you improve the working relationship with the residential neighborhood that surrounds the Golf Clubhouse and its proposed indoor and outdoor event facilities?

The VRD has designated a staff member to be the liaison between the residential neighbor hood that surrounds the Golf Clubhouse. This will enable residents to have direct contact for communications with the VRD and the Golf/Nordic Club operations. The VRD board will be informed of the communications and will help advise and consult the VRD staff as to appropriate actions that can be taken to ensure timely and harmonious solutions to any issues that may arise. In addition this will help facilitate streamlined and direct communications with one point of contact for the community to voice their wants and needs. I will work with the liaison and encourage anyone in the community to share their thoughts and ideas with the VRD to make the new Clubhouse a success for everyone.

2.  What changes might you make to the organization and operation of the VRD to insure that it functions within its revenue limitations and the services that its charter allows?  

I would encourage the organization to increase itís marketing to develop under or untapped sources of revenue. Costs associated with producing events and programs can be defrayed through strategic alliances with more advertising partnerships. It is my understanding that the tax revenues collected by the Town of Vail at special events hosted by the VRD are not directly distributed to the VRD. I believe that it would be prudent for the VRD to negotiate a percentage of these tax revenues to help offset the projected $1.8 million loss (by 2015) in Capital Expenditures. Once the Golf/Nordic Center building has been completed and the 18th hole is back in use an increase in daily fees should be implemented to restore the reserves for future appropriations and capital needs.

3.  How and why are you qualified to serve as a member of the VRD Board of Directors?

I have lived and played in Vail for more than 25 years. I have enjoyed playing golf, cross- country skiing, softball, tennis, biking and hiking through out Vail. As Executive Director for Small Champions of Colorado I have had the unique opportunity to work with Camp Vail for many summers. The staff do an outstanding job helping our physically and multi-challenged children enjoy the sports opportunities VRD has to offer. Alice and her staff at the golf course provide one-on-one lessons for our Champions through out the summer in addition to our Summer Camp. In my roll as E.D. I am responsible for our programming, fund raising and budget. I understand fiduciary responsibility and checks and balances to keep a balanced budget. I am always seeking creative ways to fund raise and keep our costs low. I am also a small business owner, co-owning Peace of Mind Property Management, Inc. (PM)2 with my husband, Mark Miller. We have created a thriving business by designing a business plan, following detailed outlines and checklists, listening to our clients every request, and implementing action plans to get it done in a timely fashion and correctly. Integrity and honesty have helped us be successful for over 14 years. I was a Vail Ski instructor for 26 years. I have worked in commercial and financial printing, helping bring many companies through the IPO process. I have a B.A. degree in International Affairs and French from the University of Colorado, and a Master of Management degree from Cambridge College. I believe my experience in both the profit and non-profit world, along with my ability to listen, will be a good asset for the VRD board.

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