Ford Park Update: Preparation of an entirely new master planning document for Ford Park is being drafted at the direction of the Vail Town Council. The 2013 Gerald R. Ford Park Master Plan will include components of the park’s previous documents from 1974, 1985, 1997 and 2012 as well as an updated list of allowed uses and prohibited uses in the park. It will also include a boundary line delineating the upper bench of the park from the lower bench and sub-areas within the two benches which will identify suitable uses for each sub-area. The plan will include a recent policy decision by the Town Council which will prohibit additional structures to be built on the park’s lower bench. The new policy direction is a departure from the park’s management plan amended in 2012, which caused the Town Council to withdraw its consent to proceed through the development review process for construction of additional improvements proposed for the lower bench, including construction of an education center for the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. Council members asked that the Ford Park planning documents be consolidated and updated before moving forward with future development applications.
Next steps in preparation of the 2013 Gerald R. Ford Park Master Plan include an update to the Town Council at its evening meeting on Tuesday, May 7. As owner of the property, the Town Council must grant permission to submit the master plan amendment application to the Planning and Environmental Commission for review and a recommendation. The PEC is tentatively scheduled to review the application at its May 13 meeting with final consideration and adoption by the Town Council on May 21.
March 19 Council Meeting: After hearing testimony on both sides of the issue, the Vail Town Council has voted to withdraw its consent to proceed through the development review process for phase 2 improvements to Ford Park. The 4-3 decision took place at the March 19 evening meeting with Andy Daly, Ludwig Kurz and Margaret Rogers opposed. The phase 2 improvements had included continued upgrades to the Ford Amphitheater with a covered courtyard, box office expansion and a Ford Family tribute, plus construction of an educational center for the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens and a proposal from town staff to replace the restroom at the playground and provide additional exhibit space for public art.
As owner of the property, the Town Council had previously agreed to allow the proposed improvements, which included financial pledges on behalf of the Vail Valley Foundation and the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, to be forwarded for development review with the understanding the action was by no means an endorsement of the project. However, following an initial review by the Planning and Environmental Commission on Feb. 11, the Council directed staff at its March 5 meeting to temporarily withdraw its consent as the property owner to allow for a site visit and a full review of the park’s master planning documents which occurred on March 19. During its review, council members noted the complexity of the planning documents and identified some inconsistencies as it relates to the community’s vision for the park.
In voting to withdraw its consent for the phase 2 development review, the Town Council will discuss its plans to initiate amendments to the Ford Park Master Plan and Ford Park Management Plan at its regular evening meeting on April 2. Members of the community are encouraged to review the planning documents in advance of the meeting and offer suggestions.
Meanwhile, phase 1 improvements to Ford Park, which were initiated following voter approval of a reallocation of Conference Center Funds, will continue to be constructed and completed, according to Town Manager Stan Zemler. These include a re-grading of the lawn seating at the amphitheater as well as new restrooms at the east entry of the venue, plus expansion of the athletic fields accompanied by new restroom-concession facilities. Representatives from the Vail Valley Foundation, which owns and operates the amphitheater, have indicated difficulty in fulfilling a private funding obligation for the phase 1 improvements, which will be part of the Town Council’s ongoing discussions.
Rendering from Ford Park Management Plan Update- April 2012
For more information on the projects, contact Todd Oppenheimer, the town’s capital projects manager, at 479-2161.