North America's Premier International Resort Community
The Town of Vail experienced numerous successes in 2016 as it marked its 50th year as a municipality.
A giant community birthday party in August provided the backdrop to reminisce about the people, the place and its future. To that end, the Town Council’s strategic goal to “grow a balanced community” included decisions on the make-up of 32 new homes that will become the new Chamonix Neighborhood at West Vail as well as adoption of an unprecedented effort to acquire 1,000 resident housing deed restrictions by the year 2027. Adding to the quality of life for community members and guests was the investment in new recreational amenities including the Zeke M. Pierce Skatepark, six new pickleball courts at Golden Peak, redevelopment of Booth Creek Park and the newly opened Golf & Nordic Clubhouse. In addition, Town Council adoption of the Gore Creek Strategic Action Plan outlines over 220 actions to be implemented to improve the health of the stream. The Town Council’s goal to “elevate the experience” got a significant boost when construction began on the I-70 Vail Underpass that will help connect the north and south sides of the community and ease traffic congestion when the project is completed in November 2017. A third goal to “enhance the local economy” saw success with a full calendar of special events which contributed to the fifth year in a row for record sales tax, albeit a leveling of growth in the past year. Perhaps most significant of all is the transition into 2017 which has been was met with a new and immediate challenge upon the announcement in November by Town Manager Stan Zemler that he would be leaving the town on March 31, 2017, after 13 years.
Examples of the many accomplishments that can be attributed to the Town Council, Zemler, the town staff and members of the community are detailed:
The steps needed to undertake a national search for Vail’s next town manager began in December after Stan Zemler, the town’s longest-tenured manager, announced he would be leaving the organization effective March 31, 2017. Zemler received high praise from the Town Council and community members for his many accomplishments. He’s credited with overseeing Vail’s expansive redevelopment, which includes public and private investments of more than $2 billion, as well as managing the town’s finances during the Great Recession in which Vail recovered more rapidly than any other mountain resort community. As the year was coming to a close, the Town Council initiated a process to select an executive search firm to facilitate interest from qualified candidates from across the country.
Red Sandstone School
Representatives from the Town Council and staff attended a “town hall” meeting at Red Sandstone Elementary School in January to show their interest and support for future improvements to the school as district officials worked to prepare a bond issue for the Nov. 8 election. Voters ultimately approved a mill levy override for Eagle County Schools that will provide $8 million annually to support operations directly related to student learning and a $144 million bond issue that will provide significant upgrades to district facilities, including a much needed renovation for Red Sandstone Elementary. Other regional tax questions were turned down by voters, including a countywide 0.3 percent sales tax increase that would have been used to support housing initiatives.
Lift Ticket Tax
The possibility of asking Vail’s electorate to consider increasing the 4 percent lift tax was contemplated by the Town Council in August. The topic was initially posed by Councilman Dick Cleveland as a way to fund the construction of additional parking in town. After seeking public input in which numerous citizens suggested taking the time for a more thorough review of the matter, the Town Council agreed on a proposal from the town manager to meet regularly with the senior leadership team from Vail Resorts to develop both short-term and long-term solutions to address the parking concerns. Council members said a lift ticket tax increase would remain a consideration for November 2017 if discussions aren’t productive.
Vail Parking & Transportation Task Force
As a follow up to the numerous parking discussions during the year, the Town Council agreed to reinstate the Vail Parking & Transportation Task Force and began taking nominations for the open seats in November. The purpose of the Task Force is to provide advisory input and recommendations on parking, transit and traffic operations. Mayor Dave Chapin will be appointing representatives from the restaurant, retail and lodging community as well as the community at-large in January 2017. In addition, the Task Force will include two members from Town Council (Chapin and Mason), two members from the Vail Resorts leadership team (Doug Lovell and Jeff Babb) and a representative from Vail Valley Medical Center. The Task Force was originally formed in 1999 in an advisory capacity and has been enacted through the years at the direction of the Town Council.
Sisterhood with San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
A sisterhood relationship between Vail and San Miguel de Allende was strengthened during the year when a delegation from Mexico traveled to Vail in February to pursue additional partnerships. The itinerary for the visit included an informal meeting hosted by Mayor Dave Chapin and members of the Town Council as well as dinner. In June, additional exchanges took place when a delegation from Vail traveled to San Miguel followed by a reciprocal visit that featured well-known Mexican chefs, an artist and performers for the community’s enjoyment. The agreement with San Miguel outlines numerous partnerships, including educational, environmental and cultural exchanges, as well as identification of tourism and promotional opportunities.
Ski/Ride with Elected Officials
Members of the Vail Town Council and Eagle County Commissioners hosted another series of ski/ride gatherings during the season, inviting members of the community to join them on Vail Mountain for informal conversation and networking.
Annual Community Meeting
Major milestones from 2015 and key focus areas for Vail’s future headlined the town’s Annual Community Meeting on March 8 at Donovan Pavilion. The meeting featured remarks from Mayor Dave Chapin, Town Manager Stan Zemler and officials from Vail Resorts, as well as open house displays by representatives from town departments.
The town’s biennial community survey was circulated during March and April with affordable and adequate housing for employees identified as a top priority by respondents. The housing topic was also prominently noted in a new “Employer-Employee” survey, also fielded in the spring. Together, the surveys recorded the opinions of more than 2,000 respondents. When asked to evaluate nine topics of interest to elected officials and staff, a focus on “housing for middle income and service worker households in vital support roles” topped the list. Rounding out the top five using the combined survey results were: parking opportunities for residents, economic vitality, environmental sustainability and transportation needs. The findings were presented to the Town Council in June by the research firm RRC Associates and helped validate the council’s focus on its previously identified priorities.
50th Birthday Celebration
Community members gathered to mark the town’s 50th birthday celebration at Donovan Pavilion on Aug. 23 to mark 50 years to the day when a vote was recorded to incorporate the small community as an official town. The celebration included a variety of tributes, refreshments, giveaways and family-friendly activities as hundreds of well-wishers gathered to reminisce and reconnect with friends and neighbors.
Community picnics at Donovan and Bighorn Parks were hosted by the town for the 17th year. Each summer, the picnics provide residents an opportunity to offer comments and suggestions about community issues to members of the Town Council and staff.
Continuing Vail’s tradition of conservative budgeting, the Town Council adopted a $65.3 million budget for 2017. Revenue projections include an estimated $26.1 million in sales tax collections, an increase of 2 percent over the 2016 budget. Property tax collections are estimated at $4.9 million, flat with the 2016 budget. Revenue from the Real Estate Transfer Tax is projected at $5.8 million, a 10 percent decrease from the 2016 budget but flat with projected year-end collections. The spending plan focuses on topics important to the Town Council and community at large as identified in the 2016 community survey, including housing, parking and environmental sustainability. The budget also includes funding to accommodate an increase of 10.14 full-time equivalent employees to accommodate added service levels to support additional maintenance responsibilities associated with parking and roadway improvements, the new skatepark, in-house staffing of the Welcome Centers and the new Vail I-70 Underpass upon its completion in November 2017. The budget also includes funding of $739,000 in special events and other economic development initiatives as well as investments in capital of $15.0 million including $3.3 million to complete the I-70 underpass; $3 million to replace eight buses; and $1.4 million to repair the Slifer Square fountain and nearby storm sewer, among others.
Sales tax collections, a vital indicator of the town’s economy and providing 40 percent of the town’s annual revenues, continued to grow, with revenues through October of $20.9 million, up 3.2 percent compared to the prior year. While this represents the fifth year in a row for record sales tax, the town has noticed a leveling off of growth in the past year. Year-to-date Real Estate Transfer collections of $6.4 million were pacing as much as 30% below budget during the year, however the sale of the Four Seasons and other high-end residential properties in December has helped to reach budget by year-end. Budgeted collections of $6.5 million are down 6.7% from the prior year.
The first-of-its-kind comprehensive on-mountain summer adventure debuted on Vail Mountain with the launch of Epic Discovery in June. The launch is considered to be a game changer in boosting Vail’s summer tourism offerings. Featured components include zip lines, canopy tours, an alpine coaster, wildlife trail exploration and interactive learn-through-play activities. The debut had been years in the making, requiring approvals from Congress and the U.S. Forest Service.
Thirty events received support from the town in 2016 with allocations of $829,000 recommended by the Commission on Special Events and approved by the Town Council. The largest allocation, $85,000, was awarded to support the GoPro Mountain Games. Highlighting the 2016 calendar was the 2016 FIPS Mouche World Fly fishing Championships in September, an Olympic level event that was held for the first time in the U.S., which received $50,000. Other notable events funded during the year included the Vail Film Festival, Vail Summer Bluegrass Concert Series, Vail Holidaze, Vail America Days™, Vail Oktoberfest™, Gourmet on Gore, Vail Kids Adventure Games, Spring Back to Vail, Vail Snow Daze, Vail Farmers’ Market and Art Show, Taste of Vail, Outlier Offroad Festival and CarniVail. Also funded were a full slate of athletic events including Vail Lacrosse Shootout, King of the Mountain Volleyball, Kick-It 3v3 Soccer and Vail Valley Soccer Cup. An additional $150,000 was awarded to seven programs in a new category of education/enrichment. In addition to the events funded by CSE, the Town Council allocated $928,695 in economic development funds to support activities in the iconic event category, including Bravo! Vail, which introduced a new residency with London’s Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, plus the Burton US Open, Vail Jazz Festival, Vail Dance Festival and Hot Summer Nights Concert Series.
Burton US Open
The 34th annual Burton US Open Snowboard Championships saw some of the world’s greatest snowboarders again converge on Vail for four days of intensive competition and family fun Feb. 29-March 5. The town again provided $400,000 in sponsorship money for the fourth year to help bring the event to Vail. The event’s return on investment included $3.9 million-plus in direct economic impact from attendees and over 866 million media impressions world wide.
Economic Impact of Events
The independent, third party economic impact survey results to date have delivered an excellent picture of the fiscal benefits the events program provides. In 2016, there was a $51 million direct economic impact to Vail’s businesses generated by 31 tracked events. In addition, these events produced a $30 economic impact payback ratio (i.e., $30 in incremental economic impact per every dollar of Town of Vail event funding). Correspondingly, there was a $1.09 tax payback ratio generated by the 31 events evaluated (i.e., $1.09 in incremental Town of Vail and Vail Local Marketing District sales taxes per dollar of town event funding).
End of Season Stimulus
To help stimulate the economy, the Town Council authorized an expenditure of $121,700 to fund end of season events, including a concert, block party and virtual reality experience after Vail Mountain announced plans to extend the ski season by one week to April 17 due to favorable snow conditions.
US Pro Challenge
In February, organizers of the US Pro Challenge announced the event had been suspended indefinitely following a five-year run, two of which included a stage hosted in Vail which attracted thousands of cycling fans. Organizers indicated they were hoping to bring the iconic race back to the mountain communities one day after securing financial backers. The event began in 2011 and was touted as Colorado’s largest sporting event, generating an estimated economic impact of $130 million across the state.
A proposal to host a music, comedy, art and mountain lifestyle event in Vail in August 2017 forwarded by the Vail Valley Foundation generated much community conversation in May. The KAABOO-Vail project envisioned use of venues in Ford Park, including the ball fields, parking lot, tennis court, soccer field and Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater to host offerings to an upscale audience. Estimated attendance for year-one was 15,000 people per day with an event goal, by year 5, to have an estimated attendance of 30,000 people per day. In the end, the Vail Valley Foundation and KAABOO withdrew its proposal for the event after concerns were expressed by community members that the scale of the event was too large for Vail.
Results of an independent audit of town financials for 2015 showed the town in a strong financial position. For the full year, government-wide revenue exceeded expenses by $17.6 million. Total reserves at the end of 2015 amounted to $80.1 million. The town has no debt for which it is responsible. Only the Vail Reinvestment Authority bonds, which are funded from incremental property tax collections within the Lionshead district, are outstanding with a balance of $9.8 million at the end of 2015.
Operation of the Welcome Centers in Vail Village and Lionshead were taken over by the town in October after a request for proposals process resulted in an impasse by the Town Council during the review process. The new town-run function replaces a management model previously serviced by an independent operator and resulted in no additional funding by the town. With transit and parking services already key functions of the guest arrival experience, the Welcome Center operations help complete the town’s role in contributing to guests’ first and last impressions.
91 new business licenses were processed by the town in 2016 including 16 new retail establishments, 55 new lodging/property management businesses, 4 food and beverage licenses, and 16 in the “other” category.
Rent by Owner
Nearly 310 rent by owner (RBO) properties obtained business licenses from the town following enactment of new regulations that became effective at the first of the year for properties renting more than 14 days per year in Vail regardless of the location of the business management office. The licensing requirement added approximately $600,000 to town revenues in both sales and lodging taxes. All short term rentals are subject to sales and lodging tax of 9.8 percent.
Fire Station 1 Remodel
A long-anticipated remodel of Fire Station 1 at 4116 Columbine Drive in East Vail began in the spring. The project increases the size of the apparatus buy to improve functionality and safety. It also includes space for firefighting equipment storage. The project added one employee housing unit, while eliminating resident firefighter dormitories which were moved to Fire Station 3 in West Vail. The finished project will also showcase landscaping which meets screening objectives while providing for sufficient fire defensible space.
Booth Creek Park Renovation
Work began in May to begin renovation of Booth Creek Park in East Vail. Construction included a complete redevelopment of the park with a new hard-surface tennis court, picnic pavilion, restroom and children’s playground.
Pickleball Courts at Golden Peak
Construction began in May to replace the existing tennis courts at Golden Peak with six pickleball courts funded by the town. The new courts opened for play in October and will be managed by the Vail Recreation District. The $1.05 million project also included construction of a unisex public restroom, drinking fountain, parking and landscape improvements.
Vail Village Transportation Center Remodel
A remodel of the Vail Village Transportation Center terminal was completed which included new floor tile, benches and painting.
Zeke M. Pierce Skatepark
The Zeke M. Pierce Skatepark was dedicated on Sept. 10 during a grand opening celebration. Designed with input from local skaters, the $1.7 million facility was constructed by California Skateparks and utilizes the space between the two parking decks at the Lionshead parking structure, not far from where a temporary skatepark was located for many years. The ribbon cutting and dedication recognized the Pierce family as well as Cameron Chaney, a former Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy student who successfully helped pitch the skatepark concept to the Town Council. Cameron’s friend, Zeke, was a lifelong resident and avid skateboarder who lost his life in a mountain bike accident just before turning 16. The skatepark is managed by the Vail Recreation District and includes features for all ages and abilities and includes a large variety of street and transition style elements. It also includes a signature wall-ride feature, mini-bowl and half-pipe. Earlier in the year, four colorful mosaics created by Washington, D.C.-based artist Valerie Theberge were installed at the skatepark, a project funded by Art in Public Places.
Vail Valley Medical Center
Vail Valley Medical Center continued to make progress on its Master Facility Plan which includes expansion and remodel of the west and east wings. The first phase of construction began in August 2015, and by year-end, the hospital had opened a newly-renovated Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and remodeled space for Howard Head Sports Medicine. Construction on the Howard Head clinic was to continue through spring 2017. The west wing entrance was scheduled to open in late 2016. Once completed, it will become the main entry to the hospital until the east wing is complete in 2020. The west wing will feature a new lobby for orthopaedic and sports medicine patients, a new space for The Steadman Clinic and Steadman Philippon Research Institute, five new rooms in the Patient Care Unit, 10 new pre-operation rooms and eight patient care unit rooms rooms with supporting nurse stations and facilities. In addition, the hospital will build a dedicated operating room waiting area and consulting room, a new BioMotion lab and regenerative medicine research lab and a new state-of-the-art Sterile Processing Department. Once the west wing is complete, construction of the east wing of the hospital will begin in earnest and will include a new Emergency Department, relocated helipad on the medical center campus, a new main entrance to the hospital from South Frontage Road and additional parking.
Hotel Talisa, Vail
In March, a new ownership group, Laurus Corporation, announced big plans for transformation of the Vail Cascade Resort and Spa that would reposition the property as a luxury resort set to join Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ Luxury Collection brand. The announcement included plans for a $50+ million renovation of the property and would continue to be managed by Two Roads Hospitality (formerly Destination Hotels). The property launched its new name and branding as Hotel Talisa, Vail and website hoteltalisa.com mid-December and is slated to open early spring 2017.
Following a multi-year construction cycle, the Lion was scheduled to open in February 2017, with its mix of residential units and street level retail space. The project adds 65 private residences, underground parking and a 4,500 square foot restaurant that will be announced in the coming months.
Renovations & Facelifts
Construction activity was bustling during the year with various renovations and facelifts throughout town. This included the newly remodeled DoubleTree by Hilton in West Vail, which replaces the Holiday Inn, exterior renovations at Vail Spa, waterproofing repairs at Arrabelle at Vail Square, completion of the Pendulum restaurant which fills the former Ore House space on Bridge Street, a facelift at McDonald’s, an expanded restaurant and bar at Pepi’s and the expansion of retail space by Christy Sports, which occupies the space vacated by Sports Authority in West Vail.
Marriott Residence Inn Special Development District
An ordinance that would authorize redevelopment of the former Roost Lodge property on the North Frontage Road in West Vail came before the Town Council as the year was coming to an end. The Council will take its first vote on the proposed Special Development District at its Jan. 3, 2017 meeting after hearing several hours of public comment on Dec. 20. The development proposal for the Marriott Residence Inn includes an extended stay hotel with 170 limited service lodge rooms. As a public benefit, the project also includes a rental apartment component including 107 deed restricted units for employee housing. Also included in the development proposal is a two-level subgrade parking structure containing 360 parking spaces, 40 in excess of town code requirements. The excess parking would be available for use by the public and local businesses. During the first public hearing, proponents said the project addresses the critical needs of mid-priced lodging, housing and parking within an infill development scenario, while neighbors testified the project was too dense and suggested the need for an overall master plan for West Vail. The Planning and Environmental Commission had voted 5 to 2 in November to forward its recommendation of approval, with conditions, to the Town Council following three review sessions.
Vail Transportation Master Plan Update
In July, community members were invited to share their thoughts about the town’s transit and transportation system as part of an update to the Vail Transportation Master Plan. The plan was originally adopted in 1993 and was most recently updated in 2009. The newest update when completed will be used to guide transportation improvements within Vail for the next 20 years.
Comprehensive Open Lands Plan Update
In December, the town kicked off of its Comprehensive Open Lands Plan Update, a months-long process that will culminate in adoption of the update by the Town Council, tentatively scheduled for the summer of 2017. Open houses were scheduled to introduce the planning update and provide the community with opportunities to ask questions and offer comments on the current plan and to help identify future priorities. The Comprehensive Open Lands Plan was adopted in 1994 and has provided the town with a framework of recommended actions intended to establish a comprehensive system of public benefits, including parks, recreation, protection of sensitive habitats, trails and land to be reserved for public uses including public buildings and employee housing. More than 30 of the 52 parcels identified in the plan have either been acquired, are close to being acquired or have met the objective of the plan without acquisition. Earlier in the year, the Town Council authorized an update of the plan and directed staff to work with the community in determining which parts of the original plan have been completed, which parts are still relevant and to identify new needs based on current issues such as protection of Gore Creek water quality, recreational opportunities, including trails, as well as the potential for acquisition of sites for housing.
The managed parking program for the 2016-17 winter season included no price increases in season parking passes and value cards. There were 29 overflow days on the Frontage Road during the 150 day winter season, surpassing the town’s goal of 15 days. The Vail Village parking structure filled 42 days while Lionshead filled 29 days.
After experiencing 22 overflow days on the Frontage Road during the 116 day summer season, surpassing the town’s goal of 15 days, officials contemplated whether a future managed parking scenario should be considered for the summer, such as paid parking. The Lionshead parking structure filled 58 days while the Vail Village structure filled 32 days during the summer season. Construction worker parking in Lionshead was identified as a key contributor to the overflow.
I-70 Vail Underpass Construction
A community open house was held in February to help kick off construction of the I-70 Vail Underpass which began in April with the construction of the two new underpass bridges on I-70. By July, the bridges were complete and the lowering of the frontage roads began. This required the frontage roads to be converted to one-way traffic and detoured immediately adjacent to I-70 at the project site, along with the suspension of the West Vail Green transit route until mid-November. When the one-way traffic pattern contributed to afternoon congestion at the Town Center interchange, engineers reconfigured the Town Center underpass by temporarily adding a second northbound lane. This added 30% of additional capacity for motorists accessing the I-70 westbound on-ramp during the busy summer months. In November, the frontage roads were reopened to two lanes of travel, just in time for the start of the ski season. With the opening of the frontage roads, the project entered a shutdown phase for the winter season. The project is on schedule and was extremely productive this past year; both the westbound and eastbound underpass bridges were constructed in just 13 weeks, an estimated 70,000 cubic yards of earth was excavated to lower the frontage roads 15 feet, 25,000 square feet of retaining wall was constructed and ten different utility lines totaling 23,000 linear feet were relocated. The project will gear up again in April 2017 for the final phase, with its completion anticipated for November 2017.
I-70 Chain Station
Construction to improve the I-70 eastbound chain station began in April. The CDOT-funded project included expanding the chain station 1,500 feet to the west, construction of a retaining wall between the interstate and frontage road, upgraded lighting and water quality. In October, Vail Police and Colorado State Patrol conducted inspections of 253 commercial trucks of which only 6 did not have the required chains, for a 97.7% compliance rate.
Snow Removal Accolades
Mammoth snow removal efforts were being reported by the Public Works Department in early February after consecutive storms dropped more than two feet of snow. Daily assessments of town roads and intersections were being made to prioritize the most critically impacted areas for snow removal, cutting ice pack and hauling. Residents were thanked for their patience and understanding while crews worked to keep up and were reminded to remove hazardous ice and snow accumulations from their roofs and gas meters to keep neighborhoods safe.
Vail Valley Trails
In February, community members attended an open house to learn more about a proposed two-phase concept for alterations to the Vail Trail, a soft-surface path that would connect Golden Peak to the Vail Golf & Nordic Center. Following community feedback, the Town Council decided to put the proposal on hold until completion of the Comprehensive Open Lands Plan Update.
A pilot program allowing electric assisted bicycles on designated recreation paths for a six-month period was approved by the Town Council in June. The trial was proposed to accommodate rental equipment available at several bike shops in town and to encourage the use of environmentally-friendly modes of transportation. Once the trial concludes in January 2017, a public hearing is to be held to determine next steps.
Open House for Prospective Home Buyers
The town sponsored an open house in January for prospective home buyers to help shape decisions about the Chamonix Neighborhood housing development in West Vail. Ideas about affordability, square footage, storage, amenities, parking, outdoor areas and other desired components of the development were collected. The information would be used by the Town Council to help determine home types, home sizes and the range of affordability of the homes.
Chamonix Neighborhood Planning
Also in January, the town advertised for bids for the first phase of the Chamonix Neighborhood at West Vail housing development as it related to installation of site access and utilities. The work included construction of water and sanitary sewer mains, storm sewer improvements and conduit for dry utilities. The bid process and subsequent infrastructure installation occurred as the Town Council worked simultaneously to determine density, unit mix, product type and other components of the for-sale development. In March, the town solicited proposals for design-build construction services for development of residential housing on the parcel, netting one proposal from a local team comprised of Triumph Development, R.A. Nelson and 359 Design. In the fall, decisions were made by the Town Council on floor plans and a site plan density of 32 units as well as the deed restriction for the homes which will provide for local ownership for residents working in Eagle County in perpetuity. The Town Council also determined it would not provide additional cash subsidy to buyers of the Chamonix homes beyond the current subsidy which includes $3.6 million for land and infrastructure costs, and an estimated $2.6 million in “markup” profit savings. During the discussion, pricing estimates were being discussed ranging from the low-$400,000s to the low $700,000s with decisions on the lottery selection process to be made in January 2017.
Housing Strategic Plan 2027
With assistance from the Vail Local Housing Authority, community members were invited to several brainstorming workshops to help guide an update to the town’s Housing Strategic Plan. The plan’s adoption by the Town Council in September fundamentally shifts the town’s emphasis from construction of new housing stock to a method of acquiring deed restrictions on existing units. The plan is supported by an ongoing funding commitment and a new decision-making structure that enables the Vail Local Housing Authority to act on behalf of the town. The goal is to acquire 1,000 additional resident housing unit deed restrictions by the year 2027. The 2017 budget included $500,000 for the deed restriction acquisitions.
The plan was initially adopted in 2008 and contained strategies to help achieve a goal to provide deed restricted housing for at least 30 percent of the workforce through policies, regulations and publicly-initiated development. Since then, there have been 212 deed restricted employee housing units established in town, bringing the total number to approximately 700 units, but well under the estimated 1,400 units required to meet the 30 percent goal. During community discussions, themes included: the do-nothing option is not a viable alternative; need affordable housing for full-time residents; a dedicated funding source for housing is needed; need to better regulate short-term rentals; homes for family/full-time residents, and rentals for temporary workers are needed; density is an option as long as it is done correctly and in the appropriate locations, able to accommodate it, i.e., close to transit, amenities, shopping, etc.
The Valley Home Store
An agreement between the town and the Eagle County Housing and Development Authority was signed in June that consolidated some housing services to create a more regional approach. The agreement calls upon staff from The Valley Home Store to assist with deed restricted transactions within the town, as well as management of the town’s housing lottery program.
Gore Creek Strategic Action Plan
After over a year of preparation and review, including numerous work sessions by the Planning and Environmental Commission, the Vail Town Council adopted the Gore Creek Strategic Action Plan in March. The plan identifies over 220 actions to be implemented over the next five years totaling over $7 million that include: new regulations, best management practices, on-the-ground projects including riparian area restoration and stormwater infrastructure, education and outreach, and ongoing monitoring.
Lunch with the Locals
A series of Lunch and Learn sessions were hosted by the town’s environmental sustainability team throughout the year, which included the addition of a newly created watershed education coordinator, to raise community awareness on topics such as stream ecology, aquatic health, riparian buffers, invasive weeds and more. The free sessions served as a platform to spread the word about the Gore Creek Strategic Action Plan and the small changes residents can make to positively affect the health of the creek together.
Sustainable landscaping practices were presented during a free workshop in April, which represented the first in a series of collaborative activities introduced as part of the Restore the Gore Strategic Action Plan. The workshop was attended by landscape contractors, commercial applicators, designers, architects and property managers.
East Vail I-70 Interchange Improvements
After receiving a grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation, the town began planning proposed water quality projects and potential landscape improvements for the East Vail I-70 interchange. The improvements will also take place beneath the I-70 bridges near the Gore Creek trailhead and the lower runway truck ramp. These projects represent the first large-scale activities to be implemented as part of the Restore the Gore effort. Construction is anticipated in the spring of 2017.
The town’s Fire and Environmental staffs monitored cleanup efforts following a diesel fuel spill on West Meadow Drive in February. The spill occurred as a crane company was working to deliver an emergency generator to Vail Valley Medical Center as part of its west wing construction project. The spill was quickly contained and was kept from leaking into the stormwater system.
Slifer Square Reconstruction
An open house was held in March to discuss plans for repairs and maintenance to Slifer Square, the iconic pedestrian access to the Covered Bridge in Vail Village. The $1.3 million project will be phased and includes repairs to Slifer Fountain to address a significant water leak, replacement of a damaged storm sewer, installation of a water quality treatment vault near the Covered Bridge to prevent storm water discharge into Gore Creek and replacement of steel snow melt mains with non-corrosive snow melt mains.
Town Clean Up Activities Expanded
To help manage waste generated with spring cleaning and end of season move-out, the town supplied free dumpsters for local residents in April as the ski season was coming to a close. The end of season activity preceded the town’s annual clean up day which was held on May 21 with community members coming together to pick up 100 cubic yards of spring-time trash. The town donated $25 per volunteer with proceeds donated to local non-profits. The event also added free collection of e-waste, household hazardous waste, and paper shredding and other hard to recycle items. At this past spring’s event, over 11,000 pounds of e-waste, 8,000 pounds of household hazardous waste and 1,000 pounds of shredded paper were collected and properly recycled.
A progress report provided to the Town Council in May estimated the town had achieved a recycling rate of just over 25 percent since implementation of its community wide recycling ordinance in 2014. This is compared to the national average of 34.5 percent. It was also estimated that about 70 percent of residential properties were participating in curbside recycling, 95 percent of the multi-family developments and 90 percent of the commercial sector. The goal of ongoing education efforts is to achieve 100 percent recycling participation in the community and surpass the national average recycling rate. As of the most recent survey, the Vail community had a 29% recycling rate, meaning that 29% of the waste Vail produces is recycled, or doesn’t go to the landfill. 80.44% percent of the residential households were found to be participating in recycling or put a recycling bin at the curb. The participation for commercial businesses is 95%. Overall, Eagle County recycled 26% of its waste, which includes Vail.
Paper Bag Fees
After one year of the town’s “Kick the Bag Habit” program, distribution of single-use bags had dropped by 90%. Before the program, the approximately 4 million plastic bags per year were distributed through town grocery stores. After one year, only 300,000 fully recyclable paper bags were distributed. The bag fund had generated $35,000 as of December, 2016, a portion of which has been used to fund free recycling collection events this past spring and fall.
The six multi-port electric vehicle chargers installed in 2015 in the Vail Village and Lionshead parking structures logged over 1,429 charge ups and saved 1,808 gallons of gasoline and eliminated 6.7 tons of GHG emissions during the year. The chargers allow a vehicle to get at least an 80 percent charge within the 2-hour free winter parking winter. The stations are connected to the ChargePoint network, where users can log on or download the app to see what stations are available at any time www.chargepoint.com.
Climate Action Statewide
Vail joined with Eagle County and seven other Colorado communities in May to form Colorado Communities for Climate Action, the state’s first consortium to represent municipalities and counties in advocating state and federal actions communities need to meet local climate-protection goals and help stabilize the climate.
Eagle County Climate Action Plan
To further the Town of Vail’s support in creation of a Climate Action Plan for the Eagle County Community, an open house was held in September to collect public comment on a draft plan. Recommended goals include greenhouse gas emission reduction targets of 25 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050. Suggested actions include saving energy in homes and commercial buildings through scaling up energy efficiency programs, engaging local businesses and schools in more sustainability programs, increasing the use of zero emissions vehicles and diverting waste from the landfill with more recycling and composting.
The sixth annual Sole Power Challenge, a green commuting challenge offered to the entire Eagle Valley and facilitated by the Town of Vail, generated over 155 participants. They logged over 30,000 miles in their daily commuting activities, which included cycling, walking, skating and other non-motorized travel. Their efforts prevented over 27,800 pounds of carbon from entering the atmosphere, the equivalent of 29 barrels of oil saved or the carbon sequestration capacity of 12 acres of forest. Participants had the chance to win over $5,000 worth of prizes donated by generous community partners, including Volvo, the presenting sponsor.
Trees for Vail
The town sponsored the distribution and giveaway of 100 native tree and shrub species in June as part of its annual Trees for Vail program. Reinstated in 2009, Trees for Vail has included volunteer planting projects as well as the free public giveaway to residents.
A community workshop was held in July to collect feedback in Vail’s pursuit to become the first certified sustainable destination in the U.S. under criteria established by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. This includes 40 best practices that address tourism infrastructure, planning for climate change, protection of sensitive environments and wildlife, affordable housing, light and noise pollution, programs for youth and seniors, stakeholder participation, cultural heritage protection and sustainability education. An initial site visit by certification representatives occurred in September with a return visit scheduled for July 2017 to evaluate Vail’s progress.
America Recycles Day
In recognition of America Recycles Day on Nov. 15, the town sponsored events to encourage waste reduction and recycling. This included a free electronics recycling and paper shredding event, a student recycled art display and a build your own worm-composter workshop. Over 5,000 pounds of e-waste and nearly 2,000 pounds of shredded paper were properly recycled through this event which was funded through the “kick the bag habit” program.
No Smoking Areas
To accommodate requests for additional smoke-free environments within Vail’s public places, the Town Council enacted regulations that expand the list of designated areas in which smoking/vaping is prohibited. These include: within 15 feet of any outdoor eating areas, bus stops, trails and recreation paths. Smoking is also prohibited in outdoor parks, open space and recreation areas as well as 15 feet of any entryway.
Fire & Emergency Services Calls
Vail Fire & Emergency Services responded to approximately 1,915 calls for service in 2016. This number is made up of 57 fire calls of various types, which are broken down into 15 vehicle fires, 14 wildland fires, 13 structure fires and 15 miscellaneous fires. The remainder of the calls for service included 36 physical rescues, 752 emergency medical calls, 599 false alarms, 93 hazardous materials incidents, 17 other types of hazardous calls and 364 other calls for service. Vail Fire & Emergency Services also responded to calls for assistance out of Vail approximately 199 times during the year. Over 100 of the responses outside the Town of Vail were to the Vail Pass areas. These responses are provided as part of an Intergovernmental Agreement with Eagle County.
A carbon monoxide incident at Chamonix Chalets at 2456 Chamonix Lane on Jan.8 served as a reminder to have CO detectors present and to call 9-1-1 when activated. When firefighters responded to the carbon monoxide alarm, one of the occupants of the four-plex reported feeling ill and sought medical attention. She was found to have carbon monoxide in her bloodstream. The best protection against carbon monoxide poisoning is to provide CO detectors on each level of your home and preferably in each bedroom. Another safety reminder was issued in February when firefighters found snow covering a fire hydrant during a response to a fire at a duplex on Katsos Ranch Road that was ignited due to improper disposal of fireplace ashes and causing an estimated $15,000 in damage. Homeowners were advised to keep hydrants located on their property cleared from snow. A minimum of three feet around the outside of the hydrant is recommended.
A structure fire in September at 2470 Chamonix Road in West Vail caused $20,000 damage to the four-plex when a plumber inadvertently sparked the fire as pipes were being repaired by a torch. The fire spread from the wall where the plumber was working to the attic. No injuries were reported and quick actions by an occupant to call 9-1-1 were credited with keeping damage to a minimum.
A semi-truck fire on I-70 at Vail Pass in November caused a nine-hour closure of the westbound lanes while crews from Vail Fire and Emergency Services worked with other responders to contain the fire. The truck had been loaded with large bales of used clothing which necessitated removing each bale from the semi to extinguish. The department’s rapid response prevented the fire from spreading to the cab of the truck and the fuel tanks as well as a potential wildfire as flames began spreading into the adjacent vegetation on the hillsides. Several weeks later, firefighters extinguished another challenging semi-truck fire in the same area. The fire resulted in a four-hour closure of I-70.
Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detection Requirements for Rental Properties
A public awareness campaign was implemented at the beginning of the year to alert property owners of new requirements mandating the proper installation and maintenance of smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detection in all short term and seasonal rental residential properties. The new requirements contained in the Town of Vail Fire and Building Codes became effective Jan. 1, 2016.
Property owners took part in another season of free chipping services provided by Vail Fire and Emergency Services. Residents were also encouraged to contact the department with questions about defensible space or measures they could take to help protect their property from the threat of wildfire. The department also published a Fire Resistant Landscaping guide to assist homeowners with creating defensible space in our fire adapted environment.
Vail Intermountain Fuels Reduction
In November, contractors for the U.S. Forest Service began cutting and piling trees as part of the Vail Intermountain Fuels Reduction project, which will reduce fuel on 94 acres. The town assisted with project funding for this first phase in the amount of $63,700. In 2017, the second phase of the project will be undertaken, which includes using helicopters to remove hazardous forest fuels on approximately 64 acres. Pile burning will accompany the project in a later phase to be completed by the spring of 2018.
Mobile Communications Unit
The Vail Public Safety Communications Center deployed its Mobile Communications Unit in July in support of a wildfire burning near Sylvan Lake in Eagle County for 5 days. The unit was staffed by a specially-trained incident dispatcher to support communications between multi-agencies. The Mobile Communications Unit was purchased in 2014 with monies contributed by several public safety agencies in Eagle County, including Town of Vail, Eagle River Fire Protection District, Greater Eagle Fire Protection District, the 911 Board and others.
Neighborhood Evacuation Exercise
The town’s emergency evacuation plans were tested in August during a training exercise in the Matterhorn and Highland Meadows neighborhoods. The “Cougar Ridge” exercise simulated a wildfire that threatened nearby homes. Uniformed law enforcement officers alerted participating residents during a door-to-door canvass. A simulated evacuation center was established at Donovan Pavilion to test coordination of the check-in process which coincided with a community picnic.
Vail Fire Community Open House
Vail Fire & Emergency Services sponsored an Open House at the West Vail Fire Station in October to celebrate National Fire Prevention Week. Activities included station tours, a smoke detector demonstration trailer and informative handouts and giveaways. This year’s theme was: “Don’t wait, check the date, replace detectors every 10 years.”
Police responded to over 35,000 calls for service, wrote approximately 1,800 incident reports and more than 470 traffic crash reports during the year. Officers arrested or summonsed nearly 650 people and issued citations to about 800 people for traffic and code violations. Detectives managed 42 new cases in 2016 while also seeing existing cases through adjudication.
Life-Saving AEDs added to Vail Patrol Vehicles
As the new year began, Vail Police announced it had equipped its vehicles with life-saving Automatic External Defibrillators since law enforcement personnel are often first on scene during medical emergencies.
Body Worn Cameras
Officers from the police department began using body worn camera systems in May, joining Avon and Eagle along with other departments across the country. Forty cameras were purchased within a project budget of $58,000. Chief Dwight Henninger said the camera program would enhance transparency and evidence collection while balancing the privacy concerns of the public.
Threats to Law Enforcement Personnel
A 41-year-old man who had been camping near Red Cliff was arrested and charged with stalking, menacing, obstructing governmental operations, harassment by phone and inciting destruction of life or property following a series of incidents in June. The man had repeatedly called the Vail Public Safety Communications Center and threatened to kill dispatchers and law enforcement officers, among other allegations. He was eventually connected to an assault at a drive-through in Glenwood Springs and subsequently charged with that as well. He was evaluated for mental health problems and prosecution is ongoing.
Text to 9-1-1 Successfully Used to Assist in Traffic Stop
In January, an agitated suicidal driver avoided a potentially deadly circumstance when his girlfriend who was traveling with the man used text to 9-1-1 to alert authorities. The dispatcher and the caller maintained a text conversation while the suicidal driver drove through Eagle County, through Garfield County and into Mesa County before the Colorado State Patrol was able to stop the vehicle and safely take the man into custody. Text to 9-1-1 was implemented by the Vail Public Safety Communications Center in January 2015.
Roadside Baby Delivery
Vail Public Safety Communications Supervisor Tina Mojzer assisted with a roadside baby delivery in August after the father called 9-1-1 when it became apparent the baby would arrive more quickly than planned. Using emergency dispatch protocols, Mojzer walked the caller through childbirth instructions which resulted in the successful delivery of a baby boy who had been in a breech position.
Mountain Lion Sightings
Reminders were issued throughout the year from Colorado Parks and Wildlife regarding a series of mountain lion sightings in and around Vail as well as the report of a lion attacking and killing a dog. Residents were advised to supervise their pets and children and refrain from leaving food out that might attract natural prey for lions, such as fox, deer, coyotes and raccoons.
A Valentine’s Day theft of an expensive jacket at a fur shop in Vail Village led investigators to look for evidence to link it with similar thefts in Aspen and Denver. In each case, the shoplifters posed as affluent shoppers who used a ruse to distract employees and steal expensive boutique clothing. Police said a strong partnership with local merchants and professional retail organizations would be critical in sharing information and developing information on the suspects. It was later determined the suspects cased several shops in Vail just prior to the theft of the jacket.
Statewide Theft Ring
Police recovered stolen property and assisted in the arrest and detention of two Brazilian natives in October who were accused of fraudulently using multiple credit cards to purchase electronics and other items from stores extending from the Front Range to Vail. Eventually, Detectives linked $65,000 worth of thefts together. The suspects were charged with multiple felonies, including felony theft, fraud, computer crimes and violation of the organized crime act. Many of the stolen items were returned to the business and the victims will eventually receive restitution.
Cocaine Ring Arrests
In November, the Gore Range Narcotics Interdiction Team (GRANITE) announced the arrest of four members of a cocaine drug trafficking organization following a months-long investigation. The investigation involved a total of 1,190 grams of cocaine, representing the largest seizure for a local drug task force, to date, with an approximate local street value of $119,000. GRANITE is a multi-jurisdictional task force comprised of Vail Police detectives and Eagle County Sheriff’s Office detectives. This case is awaiting federal sentencing.
In October, two men were arrested and charged with criminal mischief when spray paint cans were recovered from them following a string of late-night tagging incidents in Vail. The vandalism was spotted by a Town of Vail bus driver who immediately contacted police.
An ordinance regulating the recreational use of drones within the town was approved by the Town Council in October. Highlights of the ordinance include restrictions on where drones may be flown. Prohibited areas include the pedestrian areas of Vail Village, Lionshead Village including the town-owned parking structures in both Vail and Lionshead, Ford Park and the area immediately surrounding the Vail Valley Medical Center heli-port.
This summer, the Vail PD Detectives office rolled out a new evidence tracking program named The Beast. It is an electronic tracking system that integrates barcodes and storage systems to streamline the older system. The Beast saves time spent on submitting evidence by the Officer and intake by the Detectives. The Beast implementation also included a complete reorganization of the storage room, which allowed for a better, more efficient use of the space. It is estimated that the total time spent with items of evidence was reduced by 75%, allowing officers more time for other tasks.
Lighted Pedestrian Crossing Safety Devices
A plan to install lighted pedestrian crossing devices at key intersections along the frontage roads received authorization by the Town Council. The flashing crosswalk signs were approved for installation at five major pedestrian crossings as well as enhanced lighting at these crossings as part of a multi-pronged approach. The improvements were to be phased over the next two to three years. The first phase, to be completed yet this year, would improve crosswalks at the Municipal Building, West Lionshead Circle and West Vail Mall.
Click it or Ticket
Police took part in the statewide Click it or Ticket campaign in the spring, devoting nearly 40 hours of patrol time to seat belt enforcement as a reminder to motorists that using your seat belt will significantly increase your changes of surviving a serious traffic crash. Because the seat belt law is a secondary offense, drivers were stopped for another offense before receiving a citation or warning.
Chain Possession Inspection
The VPD continued to partner with the Colorado State Patrol to ensure the safety of the traveling public by conducting vehicle chains possession inspections. State law requires trucks to carry chains from September through May when traveling on Interstate 70.
Public Safety Training
The Police Department, in conjunction with the Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab, hosted free community training sessions in February that emphasized the emerging role of citizens in enhancing community safety and security. The training was a follow up to earlier sessions to prepare the community for the Alpine World Ski Championships in 2015.
Coffee with a Cop
Community members were invited to join the police department for coffee with a cop in April. The sessions are a continuation of the department’s community policing efforts aimed at improving relationships between police officers and community members and to provide additional opportunities for community conversations.
National Drug Take Back Events
Police participated in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day during collection events in the spring and fall. Sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the events are coordinated by the Safe Disposal Program, which is a partnership involving the Vail Police Department, Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Eagle River Water and Sanitation District and Vail Valley Medical Center.
Subscribers to EC Alert were reminded to re-register to the emergency notification system in October as a result of a service change. The system at www.ecalert.org is now supported by Everbridge.
National Night Out
The Police Department joined Eagle County law enforcement agencies in hosting a National Night Out gathering in August. Vail’s event was held in Lionshead in which officers and police volunteers answered questions and distributed information as residents stopped for a free barbeque.
The Vail Police Department joined other local agencies in assisting Catholic Charities and the Eagle County Law Enforcement Immigrant Advisory Committee with its annual coat drive. The coats were collected during the fall and distributed to people in need. Over the past several years, the coat drive has distributed over 3,500 coats to kids and families in need.
Free tire tread checks were again offered by Vail Police and other local agencies to help motorists determine if their tires were safe for winter driving. Coupons were also distributed for discounts from participating tire stores.
The annual Stock the Pantry food Drive collected over 53,000 pounds of food from the Eagle County schools and various markets throughout the county which were distributed locally to food pantries operated by the Salvation Army. This was the 16th year for the food drive, which was initiated by the Police Department to commemorate national Make a Difference Day. Over 6,000 more pounds were collected than the previous year.
Shop with a Cop
Fifty-six kids attended the Shop With A Cop event in December. Over $8,000.00 was raised for this event. Participating agencies included Vail PD, Colorado State Patrol, Avon PD and Eagle PD.
As the year was coming to an end, the Police Department, working in conjunction with the Eagle County Law Enforcement Immigration Advisory Committee, issued a press release in an attempt to calm immigrant fears of deportation due to President-Elect Trump’s statements about illegal immigrants. Undocumented residents without criminal behavior are not the first priority for removal and should feel confident that they can all the police if victimized without fear of deportation.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Working with the San Miguel de Allende delegation, Vail hosted multi-disciplinary visiting artist Juan Ezcurdia during a summer weekend in June. His sculptures, ceramics and other artworks were displayed at Sweet Basil restaurant, as well as at the Vail Summerfest and the Vail Arts Festival where other artisan crafts indigenous to San Miguel de Allende were exhibited.
Summer Art Events
The summer Wednesday Art Walks continued throughout the summer with great participation. Art in Public Places also launched with the help of the town’s IT and GIS services, a new website and interactive public art map on www.artinvail.com. Other summer events included hosting the Davey B. Gravey Tiny Cinema on two occasions, as well as offering visual art programming with the Alpine Arts Center.
Vail ART Pass
The Vail ART Pass program continued during the year with members enjoying private tours of Anderson Ranch, Denver Art Museum, Clyfford Still Museum and Denver Botanic Gardens. The group also enjoyed a brunch with the visiting delegation from Vail’s new partner San Miguel de Allende and the Mexican Consulate from Denver. Membership for the Vail ART Pass will open again in May 2017.
Capital Projects Incorporating Public Art
After a busy couple of years issuing several calls to artists for public art integrated in capital projects, the selected artist installations began to come to fruition in 2016. Over the previous two years over 225 artists submitted for consideration in the following capital projects:
Ford Park Portals
Installation of the Ford Park Portals by Chevo Studio began in the fall and will be completed in the spring of 2017. The hand-carved sandstone and metal sculptural portals will serve as identifying points of entry to the park. This project was identified by Town Council for Ford Park wayfinding and AIPP began working with Chevo Studio in February 2015 on this project. Chevo Studio is the artist behind the popular Ford Family Tribute and artistic enhancements at the remodeled entry to the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. In total, there will be seven entry portals along the permieter of the park.
Vail Paper Lantern Project & Winter Solstice Lantern Walk
Vail’s Paper Lantern Project continued a fourth year to bring residents and guests together as a community to share holiday spirit and goodwill during this magical time of year. Following two paper lantern workshops, the Winter Solstice Lantern Walk was a festive procession through Vail Village led by Santa and the world’s tallest elf, the Dickens Carolers and many guests. The Paper Lantern Workshops and the Winter Solstice Lantern Walk was made possible with generous funding from Vail resident Doe Browning.
Vail Winterfest Ice Theater presented by Vicki & Kent Logan
After enjoying great success with last winter’s Vail Winterfest Ice Theater, Art in Public Places with ice sculptor Paul Wertin brought back the coolest outdoor ice theater and family-friendly cinematic experience on the Gore Creek Promenade. The opening this season on Dec. 21 saw much enthusiasm and participation as the destination of the Winter Solstice Lantern Walk. The Tenth Annual Vail Winterfest Ice Theater was generously funded by Vail residents and art patrons Vicki and Kent Logan.
One Book, One Valley
The fifth year of the county-wide community reading initiative One Book, One Valley occurred in 2016 as community members joined together to read “We Are Called to Rise” by author, Laura McBride. In March, the author appeared in person to an audience of well over 100 attendees at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards.
Outreach and Programming for Seniors
In partnership with Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, the library was instrumental in offering four programs to seniors from throughout the valley. Topics were: Seasonal Foods & Holiday Decorations, Holiday Wreath & Swag Making, Terrariums, and a Harvest Festival with Cooking Demonstration. Some of these programs were held at the library and others at the Betty Ford Gardens Education Center. In addition, the library brought Gentle Yoga to the seniors from Eagle Valley Senior Life on Monday afternoons.
Healthy Lifestyle Series
The library continued its Healthy Lifestyle Series during the summertime. This was added as an annual series featuring programs and events that focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Offerings included a Functional Movement class, a Neurofeedback informational presentation, an Adrenal Fatigue presentation and a Hot Topics in Nutrition class. Also introduced was Brain HQ, a database with exercises designed to stretch your brain in new ways to help you think faster, focus better and remember more.
Adult Summer Reading Program
For the second year, the library offered an Adult Summer Reading Program. Those who participated received a booklet with activity-related raffle tickets that were put into a drawing for one of three prize baskets. Four special events were also made available to participants: Functional Movement, Amazing Brains, Yoga and a Smoothie Social as the finale event.
Tech Studio continued with its open lab hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and saw an increase in use. New introductions included the virtual reality Oculus Rift to accompany 3D Printing, BB-8, Sphero, Lego Mindstorms EV3, MakeyMakey, Littlebits, Photoshop and Video Editing software. The library also started a Robotics Club where participants learned to create and command robots to do what you want. The library will introduce Robotics II sessions in 2017.
Common Cents for Colorado
The library was named to an elite group of 13 Colorado libraries chosen to participate in the Common Cents for Colorado program during the year which is designed to teach the basics of financial literacy in a casual, stress-free environment. The basic workshop sessions covered the fundamental concepts used in personal money management, budgeting and planning. Specialized seminars were also provided on topics of particular interest to certain audiences. The library began the Common Cents program in January 2016, and during the year presented 24 classes comprising a total of 332 individuals. Class participants represented people from all demographic segments of the community, ranging from high school students to seniors, working families to retirees, and local residents to guests. The Common Cents for Colorado program will continue at the library through the summer of 2017.
National Library Week
For the sixth consecutive year, the library offered a “fine free” period commencing with National Library Week in April. In an effort to recover overdue library materials, patrons were encouraged to return their overdue items without penalty or fine. The campaign resulted in $631 of fine money waived in exchange for overdue library materials.
Friends of Vail Public Library
This volunteer group of library advocates and volunteers raised funds for the library in a variety of ways. The Annual 4th of July Bake Sale, $1,242; the Annual 4th of July Book Sale, $1,435; and the Book Sale Nook, $1,913. The Friends also sent out their annual appeal in October to previous donors, Vail homeowners, and Vail seniors, resulting in $9,516 to date.
Holiday Gift Idea
The Friends of the Library offered a fundraising opportunity with introduction of commemorative coffee, chocolate, and wine which included partnerships with Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea, Cornerstone Chocolates and Vines at Vail. All proceeds from the fundraiser will benefit the Friends of the Library.
Children’s Services @ your library
The library’s partnership with Red Sandstone Elementary School entered its fifth year in 2016 in which classes visited the library monthly to borrow materials and discover how to use its vast resources. Vail Mountain School began similar visits during the year. The library also offered educationally supportive programs: Reading Buddies pairs teens with younger students for shared reading. A monthly Book Club for kids in grades 3-5 met monthly during the winter and will resume in the New Year. Also, there will be continued collaboration with The Bookworm of Edwards during their annual children’s writing contest. The library’s Summer Reading Program supported, encouraged and entertained students over the summer break, while the Tech Studio and Robotics Club offered computer and digital opportunities to young patrons. In addition, the library continued to offer monthly events for elementary and pre-school aged children which included collaboration with programs and local businesses, including Walking Mountains Science Center, Green Elephant Juicery, Blue Moose, Sylvan Lake State Park and Avon Library.
Outside the Lines
The library participated for the second year in Outside the Lines, a national initiative to get libraries out into the community with a focus on community partnerships. Baby sitter backpacks were created and distributed to a few of Vail’s hotels. Items included books, toys, coloring and more. In addition, a book giveaway day was held at City Market where free books were distributed and library staff visited with community members about the library. The Outside the Lines program concluded with a family Scavenger Hunt around Vail and Lionshead in which the library partnered with the Bright Future Foundation – Buddy Mentors, Vail Recreation District and Blue Moose Pizza.
Join Us! Reusable Bag Campaign
In December, the library introduced a new environmentally friendly, reusable bag designed to protect checked-out items from rain and snow damage. These bags were purchased using dollars collected by Friends of the Library. Simultaneously, an education campaign was launched with the message: Join Us! in protecting books & DVDs from rain & snow damage and Join Us! in our efforts to be Actively Green.
Environmental Leadership Program
In October, the Vail Public Library received a distinguished award from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment during the 17th Annual Environmental Leadership Awards. While more than 400 government, business and community leaders were recognized, the Vail Public Library was the only library in the state to have achieved this status. This is an outstanding environmental achievement, as the library has voluntarily gone beyond compliance with state and federal regulations and is committed to continued environmental improvement.
Vintage Vail Quilt Launches Vail Public Library’s First Digital Archive Project
Not every item in a library’s collection is a book, audiobook, magazine or DVD. While the library owns lots of books, audiobooks, magazines and movies, the library is also home to a vintage quilt that was donated to the library in the 1980s to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Vail. The quilt lives in the Community Room, but now thanks to a new initiative, you can view the quilt, explore pages of a booklet about the quilt and listen to oral histories from three of the quilters from the comfort of your home. The quilt project represents the library’s first step in the digitizing of library materials which can be found online. In the coming year, the library will be adding new digital collections, starting with more oral histories in a collection entitled “Vail Valley Voices.”
Real-Time Parking Information
Real-time status updates indicating the availability of public parking in Vail was being promoted during the ski season on the town’s website as well as the Vail Mountain mobile site m.vail.com. The parking count information indicates the number of open spaces in the Vail Village and Lionshead parking structures as well as employee lots at Ford Park and the soccer field. The information is updated every two minutes and indicates when the parking areas are full and when the spaces become available again.
A partnership was formed in June between the town and ResortApp to build and maintain the official vacation guide app for Vail. The new VAIL App launched in December for iPhone and Android. Features include listings for businesses, an events calendar, parking availability, custom maps of the town and the mountain, plus a nightlife, shopping and lodging guide, and an activities directory. The app has the ability to help guests navigate around town with a GPS-based navigation system and even has a feature to stay connected with friends and family.
Online Parking Portal
Access to timely parking announcements and other updates became available for season parking pass holders and other guests of the town’s public parking facilities with introduction in November of a new online parking portal at www.vailgov.com/parking. The new service also invites users to share their ideas and suggestions in an open forum facilitated by the town’s community information office.
Vail I-70 Underpass Webcam
CDOT and the Town of Vail have installed a camera to help commuters plan their drives and follow the progress of the underpass construction. Viewers are able to select the Control button on the camera to view various preset positions for a close in view of the project. I-70 Underpass Webcam.
Vail Youth Recognition Award
Recipients of the Vail Youth Recognition Award were announced during the year with two students earning a $1,000 college scholarship awarded by the Vail Town Council. The scholarships were presented to juniors Lyle Shipp of Vail Mountain School and Lydia Ruotolo of Battle Mountain High School for their academic and community achievements.
Vail Mountain Ski Run Named After Rod Slifer
Recognizing his commitment to the community for more than 50 years, having served as Vail’s mayor six times spanning numerous decades, Rod Slifer was honored by Vail Mountain with the renaming of a ski run. Expresso, a blue run, was renamed Slifer Express in honor of Slifer. Arriving in 1962, Slifer served as the assistant ski school director during his first winter in Vail. He went on to work in real estate, initially for Vail Associates and eventually starting his own firm, Slifer Smith and Frampton Real Estate.
Celebrate Green! Award
Taste of Vail organizers were recognized during the year with the Celebrate Green! award presented by the town in recognition of the event’s ongoing efforts to promote zero waste, most notably for elevating standards for composting and recycling at the annual Lamb Cook Off. The Celebrate Green! program requires special event producers to complete a points-based checklist as part of their special event permit to ensure compliance with a minimum number of sustainable practices. Additional points are awarded to those who go above and beyond to reduce waste, encourage public transportation and reduce their carbon footprint.
Young Professional of the Year
Kristen Bertuglia, environmental sustainability manager, was named 2015 Young Professional of the Year by the Vail Valley Partnership. The award was presented at the 13th annual Success Awards held in May. Kristen was honored for her high level of entrepreneurial spirit, leadership, perseverance and creativity in striving to inspire positive environmental change through her personal and professional life.
Colorado Telecommunicator of the Year
Vail Public Safety Communications Center Telecommunicator Amber Droegemeier was named Colorado’s Telecommunicator of the Year. Amber has been with the Vail Public Safety Communications Center since 2012. She was selected for her exemplary dedication to the job, commitment to her team and in her job duties. The award was presented by the Colorado National Emergency Number Association and Association of Public-Safety Communications Officers.
Dr. Thomas I. Steinberg, Vail’s first full-time physician and the longest serving member of the Vail Town Council, was selected as the first recipient of the Vail Trailblazer award during the town’s 50th birthday celebration in August. Presented by the Town Council, the award was established as an annual civic recognition to honor an individual, couple or team that exemplifies the spirit and determination in making Vail a great community through selfless contributions of time and talent. Applications for the 2017 Trailblazer recipient were being reviewed by a Town Council committee as the year was coming to an end.
Town Employee Recognition
Former and present Town of Vail employees with 20 or more years of service were honored in August during the town’s 50th birthday celebration. A plaque bearing the names of nearly 90 staff members with room to add more names in the future was hung in the Municipal Building. Among the current employees honored was Charlie Turnbull, streets superintendent, with 39 years of service, followed by Jacque Lovato, accounting manager, with 38 years, respectively. From mudslides to floods and from snowstorms to drought, town employees are known for their unflappable resolve in handling the many challenges of a mountain resort community.
Vail Police: 50 Years
Current and former members of the Vail Police Department celebrated 50 years of service during a reunion weekend, Sept. 9-11. A number of community events took place that reunited past and present employees with members of the public, including a vintage Saab vehicle display, an open house and a community/veterans appreciation picnic.
As chairman of the board of the Vail Valley Foundation for the past 35 years, Harry Frampton was recognized by the Vail Town Council in December with a proclamation which thanked him for his leadership, vision and guidance. Frampton’s tenure with the organization set a high bar for achievement in the organization’s three areas of expertise, athletics, art and education. Those accomplishments included spearheading efforts to bring three Alpine World Ski Championships to the valley in 1989, 1999, and 2015; leading a unified private and public effort to build the Ford Amphitheater which has been renovated via five major capital campaigns; and serving more than 4,000 youth and their families via the YouthPower365 education nonprofit which merged with the VVF in 2011. Frampton’s contributions to the Vail Valley were noted as “raising the quality of life for all of us who are part of the Vail community.”
Outstanding Public Safety Professionals
Vail Public Safety Communications Center Dispatchers Beth Dobransky, Krysta Gardner, Chris Ciaffone and Troy Kirk were honored by the Eagle County Rotary Clubs for “Call of the Year” during the third annual Public Safety Appreciation Awards Night in September. The four helped facilitate use of text to 9-1-1 during an incident on I-70 which ended peacefully. Also recognized was Jennifer Kirkland, the center’s operations support supervisor. She was presented with the Leadership Award for her numerous initiatives, including a partnership with the Eagle County Law Enforcement Immigrant Advisory Committee to improve communications pathways for non-English speakers via telephone calls and text messaging alerts. This led to a new system of sharing information with an under-served population in the county.
The Gore Range Narcotics Interdiction Team, GRANITE, was named Task Force of the Year in September by the Colorado Drug Investigators Association for Region 1. The award was presented to Vail Cmdr. Craig Bettis and Lt. Dany Loya of the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office in recognition of their collaborative efforts in making an impact on felonious drug trafficking in the community as well as helping to stem the tide of criminal offenses related to drug use.
The following police employees and members of the Vail Public Safety Communications Center were recognized during the year:
Board and Commission Appointments
Board and Commission appointments during the year included Ludwig Kurz, Henry Pratt, John Rediker and Brian Stockmar to the Planning and Environmental Commission; Andy Forstl, Rollie Kjesbo and Bill Pierce to the Design Review Board; Patricia Donovan, Julie Hansen, Nancy Lassetter, Bill Pierce, Margaret Rogers and Kara Woods to the Art in Public Places Board; Craig Arseneau, Michael Hannigan and Ross Cohen to the Vail Local Licensing Authority; Mary McDougall and Molly Murphy to the Vail Housing Authority; Samantha Biszantz, Barry Davis, Mark Gordon, Rayla Kundolf, Marco Valenti and Alison Wadey to the Vail Commission on Special Events; and Scott Gubrud, Skip Thurnauer and Beth Slifer to the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council.
Community Development Department
Pete Wadden was hired in the spring to fill a full-time, two-year termed position as watershed education coordinator. He’s responsible for volunteer coordination, educational seminars, restoration projects and other initiatives to assist with the Restore the Gore activities. Martin Haeberle, the town’s chief building official left the department in May to take a similar building job with Interwest Consulting Group in California. Martin had been with the town since 2007.
Economic Development Department
Sybill Navas, the town’s special events coordinator since 2002, retired in June following a groundbreaking career. During her 14 year tenure, Sybill helped direct the evolution of Vail’s special events into one of the leading programs in the resort industry. This groundwork paved the way for the hiring of Ernest Saeger who would take over as Vail’s new special events coordinator in July. Ernest had most recently served as director of operations–venues and facilities for the Vail Valley Foundation.
Amanda Zinn was hired to fill a newly-created position to lead the Welcome Center staff. Assisting Zinn during the transition to the town-managed operation was Mark Christie whose presence in the Welcome Centers has spanned 11 years.
Sally Lorton, long-time sales tax administrator, retired in December after 38 years of service with the town. Through the years, Sally assisted hundreds of businesses with their filings and licensing, earning many friendships along the way. Stepping in to fill the newly-vacated position is Johannah Richards. She joins Gary Hartley to complete the sales tax collection team.
Officer Justin Liffick was promoted to sergeant and two new officers were hired to fill vacancies left by two former officers who were appointed to leadership roles in other mountain towns. Officer Stephen Williams, previously a dispatcher for the Vail Public Safety Communications Center, joined the department after completing the police academy, and Officer Sarah Stewart was welcomed to Vail after serving in a similar capacity in Tennessee. The staffing additions followed the appointments of Detective Sgt. Annette Dopplick to the position of commander with the Steamboat Springs Police Department. Also, former Vail Officer Nicola Erb was selected as assistant chief of the Breckenridge Police Department. Both had long careers with the Vail Police Department.
Remembered for his love of the mountains, love of Vail and as an international mountaineering pioneer when the greater community mourned his passing in December as plans were being made to celebrate his life in February 2017. Pownall was part of the 1963 American Mount Everest Expedition and the founder of Dick Pownall’s School of Mountaineering. He was one of Vail’s early pioneers, skiing Vail Mountain before there were ski lifts, and was one of the original ski instructors.