North America's Premier International Resort Community
The Town of Vail brought its commitment to housing to the forefront during the year, making more progress than in any other period in Vail’s 50-plus year history. With a newly-established goal to acquire 1,000 new deed restrictions by the year 2027, the town began making good on its goal by breaking ground on 32 homes at Chamonix Vail and committing $4.225 million to buy deed restrictions for 65 new apartments to be constructed by Sonnenalp Properties through the new Vail InDEED program initiated by the Vail Local Housing Authority. Other actions included acquisition of two free-market condominiums by the town, the rezoning of 5.4 acres to the Housing Zone District in East Vail, the construction of two new homes in the East Vail Fire Station, as well as additional public-private partnerships with Marriott Residence Inn and Mountain View Residences, bringing the total number of identified deed-restricted homes to 927 in 2017. Prior to the start of the year, there were 713 deed-restricted homes in Vail. Also during 2017, the community welcomed a new town manager, returned its incumbents to the Town Council which continued its leadership continuity with the reappointment of Dave Chapin and Jenn Bruno as mayor and mayor pro-tem, respectively. Other milestones included the opening of the Sandstone underpass, planning for a 160-space parking structure at Red Sandstone Elementary School in partnership with the Eagle County School District, a grand opening to celebrate completion of the renovation of Booth Creek Park and additional regulations for short-term rental properties. Vail made international news by being named a Top 100 Sustainable Destination by the global Green Destinations organization, while awaiting word on results of the community’s attempt to become the first Certified Sustainable Destination in America. Also of international note, Vail’s police chief won election as 4th vice president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and will assume the IACP’s presidency in 2021. Examples of the many other accomplishments that can be attributed to the Town Council, staff and members of the community are detailed below:
New Town Manager
After a thorough recruitment process that included an expanded search for qualified candidates and a series of on-site interviews with multiple finalists, Greg Clifton was selected by the Town Council to become Vail’s new town manager. Clifton, who had served in a similar role in Telluride for the past seven years, began full-time with the town in September. In announcing the selection, Vail Mayor Dave Chapin said the council was impressed with Clifton’s familiarity of the challenges and opportunities that await and found him to be a great fit for the community and the organization. Clifton, with 20-plus years of public sector experience, replaces Stan Zemler, who departed in April after 13 years. Filling the role as acting town manager during the six-month-long transition was Town Clerk Patty McKenny, who was recognized for her outstanding coordination at a community welcome reception in November. The gathering also served as an opportunity to welcome Clifton and his family, plus new and outgoing Town Council member Dick Cleveland and to acknowledge the achievements of two staff members, Streets Superintendent Charlie Turnbull and Police Chief Dwight Henninger. Clifton is Vail’s seventh town manager since the town’s incorporation in 1966.
Ten candidates, including three incumbents, filed to run for four open seats on the Town Council during the Nov. 7 election. Voters returned Dave Chapin and Jenn Bruno to four-year terms and elected a newcomer, Travis Coggin, to the third four-year term. Incumbent Greg Moffet finished fourth and received a two-year term. The remaining candidates were encouraged to apply for upcoming board and commission vacancies to continue their community involvement: Rodney Johnson, Mark Gordon, Ed Padilla, Brian Rodine, Taylor Strickland and Bart Longworth. Vail’s electorate also voted 846 to 99 to approve Ballot Question No. 1, which authorizes municipal high-speed internet services, telecommunication services and cable television services. It was a question that appeared on multiple municipal ballots throughout the state. In the Vail Recreation District election, voters approved a mil levy to help offset the district’s funding needs. During the campaign, the ballot measure won unanimous support of the Vail Town Council.
Chapin, Bruno Return to Vail Town Council Leadership Positions
Dave Chapin and Jenn Bruno were returned as mayor and mayor pro tem, respectively, for two more years following an organizational meeting of the Town Council following a swearing-in ceremony on Nov. 21. Mayor Chapin said he was honored to have been reappointed by his peers and said he was looking forward to continuing his role in the town that he loves and to help make Vail the greatest place it can be. Chapin and Bruno were the top vote-getters in the election.
Short-Term Rental Regulations
New regulations were unanimously approved by the Town Council at the close of the year for short-term rentals. The ordinance includes criteria a homeowner would need to meet to obtain and renew an annual license. This includes an affidavit for each rented unit to be signed by the licensee to acknowledge trash, noise and parking regulations as well as verifying life-safety precautions are in place and compliance with HOA rules. During final deliberations, the Town Council removed a controversial provision regarding duplex consent, noting that a complaint process is included in the regulations available to any neighbor as well as a license revocation process. The regulations are to be enacted March 1, 2018 to allow the town adequate time for property owner notification and administration.
In December, the Town Council voted to support a proposal to help sponsor two stages of the 2018 Colorado Classic in Vail. The proposal, presented by the Vail Valley Foundation, includes a circuit race for elite men and women cyclists in Vail Village on Aug. 16 followed by a time trial for the racers on August 17. The event would conclude with stages in Denver on Aug. 18-19. In voting to approve the VVF’s funding request of $310,000 plus $65,000 for in-kind services, council members welcomed the possibility of a three-year commitment for the event, which is now in its second year, saying Vail’s long tradition of cycling events have added excitement and vitality to the community. The Vail Valley Foundation will pair the stages with entertainment at the Ford Amphitheater to provide additional, positive economic impact.
International Association of Chiefs of Police
During the fall, Police Chief Dwight Henninger was elected 4th Vice President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police at the IACP Annual Conference held in Philadelphia. Henninger will advance through to executive board positions, eventually becoming president in 2021-2022. Throughout his service on the IACP executive board, Henninger said he intends to continue as Vail’s police chief. The IACP serves 30,000 members from over 9,000 agencies in the U.S. and 150 countries. Chief Henninger has been Vail’s police chief since 2002.
At the invitation of the Town Council, a 12-member Japanese delegation visited Vail in July to explore the possibility of a sisterhood exchange. The officials represented the northeast area of Nagano Prefecture which includes the Town of Yamanouchi Downtown and the Yamonouchi-machi tourism region. During a business meeting, Vail’s leadership and the Japanese dignitaries noted that both areas enjoy the spirit and the natural beauty of living in the mountains as well as numerous opportunities for information-sharing on best practices. A reciprocal visit by a 10-member Vail delegation is being planned for January 2018.
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
The 17th annual Vail Community Meeting for 2017 was headlined by celebrations recognizing the contributions of long-time residents Vi and Byron Brown as recipients of the Vail Trailblazer Award, as well as outgoing Town Manager Stan Zemler. The March 14 meeting also featured a recap of major milestones from 2016 and key focus areas for Vail’s future as presented by Mayor Dave Chapin.
Community picnics at Donovan and Bighorn Parks were hosted by the town for the 18th 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.
The Town Council adopted a $78.9 million budget for 2018 following public hearings in October. In addition to municipal service operations, the spending plan focuses on community priorities of housing, environmental sustainability and parking/transportation. This includes completion and sale of the 32 Chamonix Vail homes, which will refund $17.7 million of the town’s $22.1 million investment, plus the Vail InDeed deed-restriction program, with $3.7 million in funding allocated to the purchase of deed restrictions on Vail homes. Actions to support environmental sustainability include funding to continue implementation of the Gore Creek Water Quality Plan, implementation of global sustainable destination certification, a continuation of Actively Green programming and ongoing recycling and plastic bag reduction education. New programming includes participation in the Energy Smart Colorado Partnership to help meet the town’s climate goals. The budget also carries funding a new parking structure at Red Sandstone Elementary School which will begin construction in 2018. With a $4.3 million contribution from Vail Resorts and $1.5 million from the Eagle County School District, the $15 million structure is an example of a successful public-private partnership solving town-wide issues. The budget’s revenue projections are conservatively estimated at $87 million.
Sales tax collections, a vital indicator of the town’s economy and providing 40 percent of the town’s annual revenues, leveled off during the year, with collections through October of $20.8 million, down 0.6 percent from the prior year. Early in the year, sales tax continued to feel the impact of fewer hotel rooms due to renovations of two properties. June and July saw the most improvement, with growth of 5.2% and 7.7%, respectively. Year-to-date Real Estate Transfer collections of $5.7 million through November were pacing 24% up from prior year.
Thirty events received support from the town in 2017 with allocations in the cultural/recreational/community of $837,290 recommended by the Commission on Special Events and approved by the Town Council. The largest allocation, $90,000, was awarded to support the GoPro Mountain Games. New events highlighting the 2017 calendar were the Melee in the Mountains Roller Derby Tournament, Vail Craft Beer Classic, Slow Fashion Vail and Taste of Vail Fall Wine and Food Classic. Other notable events funded during the year included the Vail Summer Bluegrass Concert Series, Vail Holidays™, Vail America Days™, Vail Oktoberfest™, Gourmet on Gore, Vail Kids Adventure Games, Spring Back to Vail, Vail Snow Days, Vail Farmers’ Market and Art Show, Taste of Vail and Outlier Offroad Festival. 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 $151,500 was awarded to eight programs in the education/enrichment category. In addition to the events funded by CSE, the Town Council allocated $815,025 in economic development funds to support activities in the iconic event category, including Bravo! Vail, Burton US Open, Vail Jazz Festival, Vail Dance Festival and Hot Summer Nights Concert Series.
Burton US Open
The 35th annual Burton US Open Snowboard Championships saw some of the world’s greatest snowboarders again converge on Vail for intensive competition and family fun Feb. 27-March 4. The town again provided $404,000 in sponsorship money for the fifth 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 impressive media impressions world-wide.
In October, the Welcome Centers in Vail Village and Lionshead completed their first year of operation as a town-run function. In addition to providing more than 100,000 guests with useful information and assistance and an additional 100,000 guest interactions via the Community Host Program, the Welcome Center facilities were used for various functions including Lunch with Locals, Ski and Snowboard Club Vail’s temporary “clubhouse,” drop-off and pick-up for Small Champions and Eagle Valley School ski days, and as a registration point for events such as Taste of Vail, Pioneer Weekend and Vail Cup Soccer. The expanded use of the centers has highlighted the versatility of the recently-renovated spaces. In addition, the centers were integrated into the town’s new employee orientation process by providing informational walking tours of Vail Village and Lionshead to new town hires.
Eighty-eight new business licenses were processed by the town in 2017 including 16 new retail establishments, 61 new lodging/property management businesses, 5 food and beverage licenses and 6 in the “other” category.
Market at Vail
A Colorado-based grocer with stores in Ridgway, Mountain Village and Telluride was issued building permits to renovate a commercial space at Treetops across from the Lionshead Welcome Center. The Market at Vail was planning a grand opening to occur during the winter season. Recruiting a neighborhood market back to the Villages following the closure of Clark’s Market (in addition to the current offerings at the General Store in Lionshead) had been identified in community surveys as an amenity much needed and missing in the community.
Results of an independent audit of town financials for 2016 showed the town in a strong financial position. For the full year, government-wide revenue exceeded expenses by $12.5 million. Total reserves at the end of 2016 amounted to $82.7 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 $9.3 million at the end of 2016.
Vail Golf and Nordic Clubhouse
Community members gathered on Jan. 12 for the dedication and grand opening of the Vail Golf and Nordic Clubhouse. The ceremonial ribbon cutting brought together representatives from the Vail Town Council, Board of Directors of the Vail Recreation District and others responsible for Vail’s newest public facility. The ribbon cutting capped a five year effort that began when voters authorized a reallocation of tax revenues originally dedicated for a conference center to be used for expansion and improvement of the former clubhouse.
East Vail Fire Station 1
Fire Station 1 in East Vail was re-dedicated in February following a nine-month renovation of the station which modernized the facility and incorporated numerous upgrades. Council members joined Fire Chief Mark Novak and Town Manager Stan Zemler in a traditional house uncoupling ceremony. The renovation completed a multi-year facilities plan to improve Vail’s fire stations which includes construction of the West Vail fire station in 2011 and renovation of the Main Vail fire station in 2013. The East Vail Fire Station was staffed throughout the construction to maintain response standards.
Golden Peak Pickleball Center
Town officials joined the Vail Recreation District in celebrating the grand opening of the new Golden Peak Pickleball Center in June. The event featured a ribbon cutting ceremony, an exhibition game and pickleball clinics for all abilities. The six courts were constructed by the town and are operated by the VRD.
Booth Creek Park
A grand opening ceremony was held on June 6 to celebrate completion of the three-year-long, $2.4 million renovation of Booth Creek Park. The renovation features a new children’s playground, picnic pavilion, restroom, turf grass play area, paved walkways, 11 on-street parking spaces and two hard-surface tennis courts maintained by the Vail Recreation District. Booth Creek is one of nine neighborhood parks in Vail, with each of them featuring hand-crafted play structures.
I-70 Vail Underpass
The official opening of the I-70 Vail Underpass took place on Oct. 13 with members of the community joining federal, state and local officials for a ribbon cutting ceremony in which a new name was given to the roadway – Sandstone Underpass. The $30.1 million underpass uses roundabouts to connect Vail’s neighborhoods along the north and south frontage roads. It also provides for improved emergency access, safe and convenient crossings for pedestrians and bicyclists and eases congestion at the new roundabout interchanges in West Vail and Town Center. A public art installation made of Corten steel sponsored by the town’s Art in Public Places encircles the project’s south side and functions as a headlight glare screen. The project also features significant landscaping, improvements to the recreation path and extensive stone work on the retaining walls. An accelerated construction schedule resulted in completion of the project ahead of time and on budget. During the ceremony, Mayor Dave Chapin thanked the community for its patience during the multi-year construction and said the project had been worth the wait.
Vail Nature Center
In September, 2017, the town hired Hopkins Architecture to conduct a feasibility analysis for improvements to the Vail Nature Center building. The study, to be completed in January 2018, also includes a review of existing and future access requirements, utilities and building code requirements. The building, located in Ford Park, is owned by the town and leased to the Vail Recreation District with programming provided by Walking Mountains Science Center.
Transportation Impact Fee
A transportation impact fee was adopted by the Town Council during the year. The fee applies to new developments, including creation of any new residential dwelling units or any new commercial floor area. The fee does not apply to residential remodels where no additional units are added or to commercial remodels that do not increase square footage or change use. The new fee will be paid by the owner or developer and will be collected by the town at the time of issuance of a building permit. Revenues will be used for new transportation-related infrastructure projects due to the increased vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle traffic from the incremental new development.
Marriott Residence Inn
In February, the Vail Town Council voted to approve a Special Development District application for development of the Marriott Residence Inn at the former Roost Lodge property at 1783 N. Frontage Road. The project approval includes an extended stay hotel with 170 limited service lodge rooms, plus a rental apartment component to include 102 one- and two-bedroom apartments, 96 of which would be deed restricted in perpetuity for employee housing. Also included in the approval is a two-level subgrade parking structure containing 331 parking spaces. With delays in a construction start, the developer approached the Town Council in December with a request to review a proposed development agreement. Approval of the development agreement is one of the few remaining steps necessary to get the development underway.
Vail Health Hospital
Vail Valley Medical Center announced its new name, Vail Health, in August, the same evening its new west wing was dedicated, signifying two major milestones in the health care system’s history. The first phase of construction on Vail Health Hospital began in 2015, and upon completion just two years later, the community and visitors were already benefiting from a new cardiac catheterization lab, new pre- and post-operative rooms, an upgraded Patient Care Unit and Intensive Care Unit, a new fourth floor for The Steadman Clinic, additional research space for the Steadman Philippon Research Institute and an expanded physical therapy clinic for Howard Head Sports Medicine. With the west wing complete, Vail Health has turned its focus to the second phase of construction on the east wing, which 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.
East Vail Parcel Rezoning
An application to rezone a 23.3-acre parcel of land owned by Vail Resorts was approved by the Town Council in a 5-2 vote during the fall. The property, located on the north side of Interstate 70 at the East Vail interchange, was rezoned from Two-Family Residential district to two distinct zoning classifications – the western portion of the site representing 5.4-acres was changed to a new Housing district zoning classification while the eastern portion of the site representing 17.9-acres was rezoned as Natural Area Preservation district. The application drew both support and opposition from members of the community. The need for more employee housing opportunities in Vail was voiced as well as an interest in the protection of bighorn sheep and other wildlife habitat that would potentially be impacted by future development on the site. Vail Resorts has yet to submit specific development plans or designs to the town for employee housing on the site.
In November, Vail's newest luxury hotel, Hotel Talisa, debuted for its inaugural winter season following a $60 million renovation. The property offers 285 new accommodations, spa and other upscale amenities. The property had been closed for more than a year for the remodel, reducing the town’s inventory of lodging units and related tax revenue.
Mountain View Residences
As the year was coming to a close, the Town Council approved a Special Development District application for a second phase of the Mountain View Residences, located west of Ford Park on South Frontage Road. The development proposal includes construction of 15 condominiums, 20 attached accommodation units with the condos and 15 employee housing units to be built upon an existing parking garage. In granting their approval, the Town Council found that the public benefits of the development, which includes the 15 on-site employee housing units, the renewable energy off-set generated by the roof mounted solar panels, the additional short term lodging availability provided by the 20 attached accommodation units and the $265,000 employee housing mitigation fee outweighed any adverse impacts otherwise resulting development.
Red Sandstone Parking Structure
A development agreement was signed in August with the Eagle County School District to construct a $15 million, 4-level, 160-space parking structure on the Red Sandstone School site to be funded through a partnership that also includes a $4.3 million contribution from Vail Resorts and $1.5 million from the School District. The parking structure, to be built during the April-November 2018 timeframe and opened in time for the 2018-2019 ski season, will enable use of 120 spaces when the school is in session and access to 160 spaces during weekends and other non-school times.
Vail Parking & Transportation Task Force
The Vail Parking & Transportation Task Force was reinstated during the year with the 12-member group appointed by the mayor. In reinstating the task force, recommendations and input were solicited on public parking, transit and traffic operations. Many of the advisory recommendations forwarded to the Town Council were adopted for the 2017-2018 ski season, including pricing adjustments.
For the first time in 10 years, winter parking rates increased for users of the Vail Village and Lionshead parking structures for the 2017-2018 season as well as pricing adjustments for season pass holders. In approving the new fee structure, Town Council members agreed with many of the recommendations forwarded by the Parking Task Force and said the modifications were necessary to help meet the town’s goal to limit the amount of overflow parking on the South Frontage Road and to encourage use of free outlying parking and transit. Another change was a reduction in the free parking period in the structures from 2-hours to 90-minutes to improve availability of close-in parking; an increase in the overnight storage fee to $50 was also approved. Extra bus service and a $5 off parking coupon program for the business community was initiated to help offset the pricing increases.
Expanded Summer Transit Service
The town introduced increased frequency on targeted outlying routes during the summer to encourage additional ridership. Residents and guests responded favorably with double-digit ridership increases on the East Vail, Golf Course and Sandstone routes, prompting the Town Council to retain the service through the fall. The goal was to reintroduce community members to the economical and environmental advantages of Vail’s free transit system, which in turn, frees up available spaces in the Vail Village and Lionshead parking structures.
Summer Parking Use Tracking
Customers of the Vail Village and Lionshead parking structures pulled a ticket to gain access to free parking during the summer and used the ticket to exit as part of the town’s data collection effort to track daily activity. Information on the 2017 activity will be reviewed by the Town Council and members of the Vail Parking and Transportation Task Force to determine if additional management solutions should be considered in the future. The summer also saw continuation of managed parking operations which included express bus service along the Frontage Road to event venues in Ford Park, extension of the in-town transit route to Ford Park via Vail Valley Drive and parking restrictions on the South Frontage Road, limiting its use to overflow parking once the two structures filled.
Pedestrian Safety Improvements
The first phase of pedestrian safety improvements were completed in February at key crossroad locations. The flashing beacons were installed at the Town Center and West Vail roundabouts and at the Municipal Building crossing on South Frontage Road. Phase two of the improvements were completed in the fall with the addition of flashing beacons at the pedestrian crossing at the intersection of Vail Valley Drive and the South Frontage Road, at the pedestrian crossing just west of the intersection of West Forest Road and the South Frontage Road and at the new Sandstone Underpass. Improved lighting at the roundabouts is planned for 2018 to complete the pedestrian safety improvements.
Hoop Houses and Greenhouses
To accommodate community interest in the use of hoop houses and greenhouses, the Town Code was updated to encourage this type of residential gardening. The most significant change allows for unheated hoop houses or cold frames to be assembled on private property within the need for design review or a building permit.
Shared Uses at Stephens Park
In June, users of Stephens Park in the Intermountain neighborhood were asked to assist the town in facilitating shared use of the park’s green space. The conversation resulted from complaints of excessive dog waste and off-leash conflicts. Neighborhood representatives pledged to do their part to improve the overall enjoyment of the park and to encourage dog owners to be responsible for the actions of their pets.
A public groundbreaking ceremony was held on May 16 to celebrate construction of the Chamonix Vail homes. Members of the Town Council and the design-build team were on hand to officially recognize the many community members and partners responsible for the development. The groundbreaking was the culmination of a master planning effort for the 3.54-acre site which was designed to create reasonably priced home-ownership opportunities for families in Vail. The Chamonix Vail development includes 32 townhomes in two- and three-bedroom configurations with garages and other amenities. Pricing is from $399,000 to $739,000. Upon completion, the homes will be deed-restricted with maximum resales capped at 1.5 percent per annum of the original purchase price. Earlier in the month, the town’s first large-scale housing lottery in 20 years was held when 88 qualified buyers took part in the selection process. The first homes will be ready for move-in by mid-January 2018 with the remainder completed in April. The development used a systems-built manufacturing process to ensure both quality and productivity with construction of the homes completed in less than a year.
The town’s new deed restriction purchase program, Vail InDEED, was introduced to the community with $3.7 million in available funding. An initiative of the Vail Local Housing Authority and Vail Town Council, the program provides incentives for homeowners as well as homebuyers and sellers, real estate investors and business owners to deed restrict existing homes in Vail to aid in their protection and preservation and help the town meet its strategic housing goal of acquiring an additional 1,000 deed restrictions by the year 2027. The program has been recognized as one of the most innovative approaches in the nation to help reach the goal of maintaining and sustaining homes for residents within the Vail community. As the year came to a close, more than a dozen applications had been submitted to the Vail Local Housing Authority for consideration. To date, two deed restriction purchases are underway. These additional purchases, when combined with the $4.225 million approved for Solar Vail, represent nearly $4.35 million in housing investments. Information about the new program, as well as applications, is available on a new website, vailindeed.com.
Solar Vail Rental Housing
The Vail InDEED program was called upon to provide seed money to assist in the financing needed to construct 65 new rental apartments on the site of the existing 24-unit Solar Vail Apartments, located at 501 N. Frontage Road and deed restrict another nine homes elsewhere in town. The Town Council authorized deed restriction purchases totaling $4.225 million for the development initiated by Sonnenalp Properties. A mix of studio and one- and two-bedroom apartments is planned on the site. Sixteen of the new apartments would be available for businesses and individuals not associated with Sonnenalp Properties to lease on a 12-month basis. Following completion of the development review process, the 65 new apartments could be available for lease for the 2019 summer season.
Gore Range Condo Purchase
In May, proceeds from the town’s housing fee-in-lieu fund were used to purchase a one-bedroom, one-bath 522 square foot home at the Gore Range Condominiums, 219 Chamonix Lane, in West Vail. The purchase price was $325,000. The home was added to the town’s existing inventory of employee housing units owned by the town to provide rental opportunities for employees in critical positions. To date, more than 20 such homes have been acquired by the town for this purpose. The town has been collecting housing fee-in-lieu payments since 2007 after becoming the first community in Eagle County to enact employee housing regulations. The fund has generated more than $4 million since its inception.
Altair Vail Condo Purchase
In December, the Town Council authorized the $267,500 purchase of a one-bedroom, one-bath 634 square foot home at Altair Vail, located at 4192 Spruce Way, in East Vail. The town’s housing funds were used to purchase the home with the unit to be deed-restricted as recommended by the Vail Local Housing Authority and the former owner’s request. The home will be resold to a qualifying employee.
Annual Resale Housing Lottery
Recommended improvements to the town’s annual resale housing lottery process were favorably reviewed by the Town Council in December. The suggestions, presented by the Vail Local Housing Authority, include simplifying the application process, eliminating minimum household size requirements, phasing out weighted preference and tiered systems and replacing the annual lottery process with an individual and separate process for each home when it becomes available for purchase. The changes were recommended to address concerns from previous lottery participants about the effectiveness, appropriateness and fairness of the annual selection process.
Sustainable Destination Assessment
After months of preparation, Vail hosted an independent site visit in July to determine if it had met the criteria needed to become the first Certified Sustainable Destination in the U.S. The certification process is sponsored by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and Green Destinations, based in The Netherlands. The assessment reviewed the community’s performance in over 40 international standards in the areas of energy, climate, waste, equity, economy, wildlife health and more. Results indicated that Vail’s areas of improvement should center on enhanced collaboration with regional partners, wildlife health and addressing greenhouse gas emissions associated with snowmelt. Final certification is expected by mid-January 2018. An update on the status of Vail’s certification was pending at the close of the year.
Top Sustainable Destination
In September, Vail made international news for its collective sustainability efforts by being named to the Top 100 Sustainable Destinations in 2017 by Green Destinations. The award was presented during the Global Green Destinations Gala in Portugal in celebration of World Tourism Day. Accepting the award on behalf of the Vail community was Kim Langmaid, founder and vice president of Walking Mountains and a town council member; Kristen Bertuglia, the town’s environmental sustainability manager; Mark Hoblitzell, town environmental sustainability coordinator; and Melissa Kirr, Walking Mountains sustainability programs director. Vail and the other nominees were required to provide extensive information about their sustainability initiative and their local and global impacts. The review process included an evaluation of 15 core criteria of the Green Destinations Standard, including cultural heritage conservation, solid waste reduction, accessibility and landscape and scenery.
Climate Action Plan for Eagle County
In January, Vail joined with other jurisdictions in adoption of the Climate Action Plan for Eagle County. The plan outlines targets and milestones, including a goal to reduce countywide greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Strategies include expanding energy efficiency programs for buildings, reducing waste, developing new public transit options and increasing renewable power supplies.
Compact of Colorado Communities
In December, the Vail Town Council approved Resolution No. 41, Series of 2017 joining the Compact of Colorado Communities, a statewide group of communities that focuses on the necessity for building capacity in local governments and community collaboration to rapidly scale-up and advance climate action planning. Vail will have access to training, grant funding and participate on the Steering Committee of the Compact.
Electric Bus Grant
The town was notified of a grant award from the Federal Transit Administration’s Low or No-Emission in September which has provided $525,287 to the town to help upgrade buses serving the in-town route to zero tailpipe emission, battery-electric buses in 2020. During the winter of 2018, the town will be testing multiple battery-electric buses along the in-town route to review manufacturers, train drivers and mechanics and field test equipment in winter operating conditions. The town is currently applying for CDOT’s FASTER grant program for additional funding and anticipates pursuing further funding for the project from the state’s Volkswagen settlement award.
Regional Electric Car Purchase
Vail joined Garfield Clean Energy and 10 other partners in launching a regional group buy incentive program providing discounts for electric car buyers. With four participating dealers, the 90-day campaign resulted in the purchase of 42 electric vehicles in the region, with 13 being purchased by Eagle County residents. The next step of the program is to continue to add electric vehicle charging capacity in the region.
Riparian Habitat Grant Awards
In 2017, the Town of Vail was awarded two grants to support riparian habitat restoration along Gore Creek. A Fishing is Fun grant from Colorado Parks and Wildlife totaling $35,000 will fund trail work, bank stabilization and planting at the Vail Nature Center. A second grant for $38,000 from Great Outdoors Colorado will fund bank stabilization work and riparian planting along Gore Creek east of Vail Valley Drive. Work on both projects will begin in 2018.
A public-private cost-share initiative in which grants are offered to assist with up to 75 percent of design costs associated with local streambank and riparian restoration projects was initiated in August. Homeowners, businesses and HOAs were invited to apply for the Project Re-Wild funding, which has netted five applications from homeowners and HOAs, to date. The program will continue in 2018.
Gore Creek Test Samples
Aquatic life populations in Gore Creek were showing some modest improvements at several test sites along the river as the town continued to work with its partners to “Restore the Gore.”
Since 2012, Gore Creek has been listed as an impaired waterway for failing to meet EPA standards for aquatic life. The latest test samples, collected in 2016 and presented to the Town Council in the fall, showed improvement along Bighorn Park, East Vail and the Vail Wastewater Treatment Plant, while a site just above the confluence with the Eagle River showed an alarming decline. Presenters were optimistic that ongoing efforts to restore riparian habitat, disrupt the flow of polluted runoff, reduce the use of landscaping chemicals and continued public education will produce more improvements in the future.
In April, the town advised community members that many of the pesticides used to protect trees can unintentionally kill beneficial insects. An online resource guide was made available providing recommendations on best practices.
Town-wide property inspections for noxious weeds were implemented in July and extended into September. The inspections allowed the town to identify specific problem areas, track the movement and trends of noxious weeds and prioritize critical and sensitive areas for current and future management operations. Properties were surveyed from roadways with property owners notified of infestation severity.
Lunch with the Locals
A series of Lunch and Learn sessions was hosted by the town’s environmental sustainability team throughout the year 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 continued 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.
Gore Creek Spill Hotline
A new hotline was activated to collect tips on suspected spills or potential hazards to Gore Creek and other local waterways as part of the town’s comprehensive focus on stream health. The hotline, 970-476-GORE, allows callers to share reports anonymously to the town’s environmental sustainability office.
Town Clean Up
The town’s annual clean up activities included a spring cleaning blitz which featured a large item residential pick up, a free collection event for hard to recycle items and the community-wide clean up on May 13 in which community members participated. The town again donated $25 per volunteer with proceeds donated to local non-profits. Over 17,000 pounds of e-waste, household hazardous waste, clothing and paper shredding was collected at the hard to recycle collection event.
The seventh annual Sole Power Challenge, a free green commuting challenge offered to the entire Eagle Valley and facilitated by the Town of Vail, saw 227 members, a 46 percent increase in participation from 2016. They logged over 33,000 miles in their daily commuting activities, which included cycling, walking, skating and other non-motorized travel. Their efforts prevented over 30,000 pounds of carbon from entering the atmosphere. Participants had the chance to win over $8,000 worth of prizes donated by generous community partners.
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.
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. Nearly 12,000 pounds of e-waste was safely recycled in partnership with Blue Star Recyclers and 3,320 pounds of shredded paper were properly recycled by Alliance Moving Systems through this event, which was funded through the “Kick the Bag Habit” program.
The most recent hauler reports show that the community has maintained a 24 percent recycling rate 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. It is expected that this rate will improve with continued education on what can and cannot be recycled. Common contaminants, such as coffee cups, films plastic, gift wrapping paper, tissue paper and Styrofoam are important to leave out of recycling bins, it is also important to remember that recyclables should be loose and free in the cans for pickup and not bagged. The Town of Vail is working on a partnership with Vail Honeywagon to offer a residential compost drop site in the community that will provide additional opportunities for waste diversion.
Paper Bag Fees
The town’s “Kick the Bag Habit” program has resulted in a 90 percent reduction in the use of single-use bags at community grocery stores. Prior to the program, approximately 4 million plastic bags were distributed annually. Currently, stores are averaging the distribution of 300,000 locally recyclable paper bags through two years of the program. The town has been able to add additional collection events for hard to recycle items such as e-waste, paper shredding and household hazardous waste through funding from paper bag fees.
Fire & Emergency Services Calls
Vail Fire & Emergency Services responded to 1,914 calls for service in 2017. This number is made up of 42 fire calls of various types, which are broken down into 9 vehicle fires, 11 wildland fires, 10 structure fires and 12 miscellaneous fires. The remainder of the calls for service included 50 physical rescues, 691 emergency medical calls (including vehicle accidents), 537 false alarms, 80 hazardous materials incidents, 11 other hazardous conditions, 175 service calls and 328 other calls for service. Vail Fire & Emergency Services also responded to calls for assistance out of Vail approximately 164 times during the year. Over 120 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.
Although there were no major loss structure fires in 2017, a number of minor building fires were attributed to either unattended cooking or combustible items stored too close to heat sources such as electric heaters, fireplaces and halogen lamps. The danger of this practice was reinforced in December when a couch placed too close to a gas fireplace caused a structure fire in the Brooktree Condominiums. There were no injuries although the smoke caused the evacuation of the building.
Carbon Monoxide Alert
Community members were reminded of the importance of inspecting appliance vents after heavy snowfall to ensure they’re not blocked following a suspected carbon monoxide poisoning incident in January that sent five people to the hospital. All five survived thanks to the quick thinking of emergency responders from Vail Fire and Eagle County Paramedic Services.
Vail Intermountain Fuels Reduction
Significant activity occurred on the Vail Intermountain project in 2017. Throughout the summer contractors worked to complete over 50 acres of tree removal work. During the fall a helicopter was used to remove logs from 43 acres of the project. The logs were later sent to wood processing facilities in Colorado to make useable wood products. In total the helicopter operation removed more than 800,000 board feet of wood or enough wood to build 50 average single family homes. Due to favorable conditions in early winter, crews from Vail Fire and the U.S. Forest Service were able to burn all of the piles created from the project completing the burning two years ahead of schedule. The Vail Intermountain Project has been an overall success treating 80 acres in a partnership between the Forest Service and the Town of Vail.
Curbside Wildfire Home Hazard Evaluations
In July, firefighters began a door-to-door canvass of residential neighborhoods to help community members learn how best to protect their property from a wildfire. The effort is part of a larger Fire Adapted Vail Initiative which aims to reduce the community’s overall risk by encouraging the use of ignition-resistant construction and fire-resistive landscaping around the home. During the four month canvass, firefighters conducted advisory evaluations of 800 properties south of I-70 from Matterhorn Circle to the west end of Matterhorn Circle. Additional evaluations will be taking place over the next several years to complete the town-wide effort.
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.
Wildfire Season Recap
2017 was a very active wildfire season both locally and across the nation. Smoke from local wildfires was seen in the valley throughout much of the summer. Wildfires in Eagle, Garfield and Grand Counties in July and August reminded residents of the ever-present potential of wildfire. When wildfires in the nation become large, local responders look for extra help from neighboring areas. From March through October, Vail Fire sent firefighters and equipment to fires in Colorado, Georgia, Arizona, Utah, California and Montana. Additionally, Vail Fire resources were available to help out the U.S. Forest Service and Summit County firefighters when the Peak 2 fire erupted outside of Breckenridge on July 5 burning 87 acres in less than 4 hours and overwhelming local responders. This system of sharing people and equipment provides valuable training and experience for protecting Vail from wildfire.
Hot and dry conditions in July combined to enact Stage 1 fire restrictions throughout Eagle County and in Vail. Stage 1 fire restrictions limit activities that involve the use of open flames or generate sparks.
A horrific semi-truck accident on eastbound I-70 in September sparked a small wildfire causing fire crews to call upon their training to rappel 300 feet into a canyon to douse the flames. The interstate was closed for a time while crews helped recover the vehicle. Sadly, the driver was killed in the crash.
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, informative handouts and giveaways. This year’s theme was: “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out.”
Police responded to over 35,000 calls for service, wrote approximately 1,800 incident reports and more than 400 traffic crash reports during the year. Officers arrested or summonsed nearly 750 people and issued citations to about 1,000 people for traffic and code violations. Detectives managed 185 new cases in 2017 while also seeing existing cases through adjudication.
Fraudulent Lift Ticket Sales
In January, police issued an alert while investigating multiple cases of ski lift tickets being fraudulently sold online through third-party vendors. The department joined Vail Resorts in reminding everyone that ski lift tickets and season passes are non-transferrable, meaning they cannot be resold, loaned or gifted.
An unattended death case in February rapidly evolved into a multi-million dollar investment fraud scheme when investigators unraveled a Ponzi type scam in which investors were swindled out of millions of dollars allegedly perpetrated by the deceased. Vail detectives worked with representatives from the Eagle County Coroner’s Office, the Colorado Division of Securities, United States Postal Inspector’s Office and the United States Securities and Exchange Commission in investigating the case and were able to freeze nearly half a million dollars in suspect bank and investment accounts. The cooperative investigation of the End of the Rainbow Foundation culminated in the SEC filing a civil case against the suspect’s estate to seek restitution for the victims.
In the spring, two suspects were arrested and charged with felony theft, forgery, burglary and criminal possession of a financial device following a burglary at a business in West Vail in which the suspects had attempted to deposit some stolen paychecks into their bank account.
Public Safety Communications Center Remodel
In May, the Vail Public Safety Communications Center underwent a complete remodel. Dispatchers worked out of a temporary set-up while workers dismantled the consoles and equipment and rebuilt them from the floor up. The remodel provides improved functionality and a technological base that will last into the future.
Over the course of the year, the Vail Public Safety Communications Center as a whole developed a goal of decreasing the time it takes to handle an emergency call. Prompted by Eagle County’s fire chiefs, the call-takers and dispatchers used a four- step process to reduce their call processing times nearly in half, bringing them into line with national standards.
Year-Round Medication Drop Box & National Drug Take Back Events
An official safe disposal site for unused or expired household medications was established in the Vail Municipal Building in May, funded by the Colorado Household Medication Take-Back Program and administered by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment. Prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as vitamins, can be disposed of safely in the drop box. The disposal service is free and items may be deposited anonymously with no questions asked. In addition to the year-round disposal site, 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 Health.
Bilingual Police Academy Recruit
In an effort to improve communications with Spanish-speaking community members, the police department introduced a scholarship program offering tuition-free enrollment to the police academy for bilingual recruits. The first recipient, Elena Sanchez, an Eagle-Vail resident finished her training Dec. 15 and has begun her police officer field training.
Volunteer Interpreter Recruitment
Vail Police assisted the Eagle County Law Enforcement Immigrant Advisory Committee in recruiting volunteer interpreters for numerous languages and sign-language during the year. The need for volunteer interpreters has become more apparent in Eagle County as more members of the immigrant community are beginning to become comfortable reporting crimes to law enforcement. The program currently has 21 volunteers proficient in 3 languages.
Vail Police 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 3,800 coats to kids and families in need.
Shop with a Cop
Fifty-one kids attended the Shop With A Cop event in December. Over $6,000 was raised for this event. The organizations that made it possible were Vail Police, Avon Police, Vail Fire, TOV bus department, Eagle River Fire District, Volunteers in Police Service, Wal-Mart, Four Seasons, Colorado State Patrol and the Battle Mountain High School Dance and soccer teams.
Coffee with a Cop
Community members were invited to join the police department for coffee with a cop in April and December. The sessions are a continuation of the department’s community policing efforts aimed at improving relationships and building trust between police officers and the community members they serve. This effort provides additional opportunities for community conversations.
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 at Stephens Park in which officers and police volunteers answered questions and distributed information as residents stopped for a free barbeque.
Chain Possession Inspection
The police department 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.
Click it or Ticket
Police took part in the statewide Click it or Ticket campaign in the spring and summer devoting nearly 70 hours of patrol time to seat belt enforcement. During this time frame, Vail officers issued 57 citations.
Vail Police Safety Communications Center Dispatcher Mariah Guernsey oversaw the department’s participation in the U.S. Forest Service and Vail Valley Mountain Bike Association’s Adopt-A-Trail Program. Adoption of a trail involves clearing severely overgrown vegetation, maintaining trail width, cleaning drainage ditches, clearing debris and dismantling illegal bike jumps. The department joined another town trail crew to revegetate a large area of U.S. Forest Service land that had been used as an illegal bicycle jump park.
Special Olympics Colorado - Freezin’ for a Reason
In February, the Vail Police Department Polar Plunge Team joined neighboring law enforcement agencies to bring attention to athletes and to raise money for their training expenses and competitions. The Polar Plunge Team showed their passion for this cause and gratitude for donations by jumping into the frigid waters of Nottingham Lake in Avon.
Tip a Cop
Officers from Vail Police as well as personnel from other law enforcement agencies served tables at Lancelot restaurant in December as part of the national Tip A Cop program to support programs sponsored by Colorado Special Olympics, raising over $3,200.
AIPP Programs & Projects
Art in Public Places sponsored numerous programs and projects during the year. Summer highlights included a stormwater educational art installation that was used to promote the health of Gore Creek, an environmental art installation made of beetle-killed lodgepole pine trees and the return of Davey B. Gravey’s Tiny Cinema. During the winter, participants enjoyed the Vail Paper Lantern Project & Holiday Lantern Walk sponsored by Doe Browning, as well as the Vail Winterfest Ice Theater presented by Vicki & Kent Logan. AIPP also sponsored free seasonal art walks and provided patrons of the Vail Art Pass a visit and tour to the Marble Symposium in Marble, Colo.
AIPP Capital Projects
Capital projects initiated by Art in Public Places were used to enhance the Booth Creek Park playground, Sandstone Underpass, Golf Course & Nordic Clubhouse and Ford Park. Specifically, AIPP commissioned Andy Dufford of Chevo Studios in Denver to install two hand-carved climbing boulders at the Booth Park playground, Gordon Heuther’s “Roundabout the Mountain” was installed at the south roundabout and two paintings by Mai Wyn Schantz were selected to be hung in the clubhouse as part of an ongoing effort to integrate art within the building. Also, installation of six hand-carved sandstone sculptures to serve as portals to Ford Park were completed during the year. A seventh sculpture will complete the installation next spring.
Donation of Rod Kagan Sculptures
Art in Public Places accepted the donation of an installation of three sculptures by the late Rod Kagan for the town’s art collection. The works were installed at the in-town bus turnaround by the soccer fields during the fall.
Evenings of Engagement and Program Outreach
Over the course of the year, the library’s Evenings of Engagement programming series entertained and informed nearly 700 attendees as it hosted dozens of performers from near (Red Cliff) and far (England). These programs covered topics as diverse as self hypnosis, avalanche awareness on the slopes and uses of fermented foods as well as musical entertainment ranging from dynamic rock duos to classical chamber music to intimate honky-tonk sessions. There were also collection-specific displays for Talk Like a Pirate Day, International Day of Peace, Reader Bingo for Teen Read Week, a flow chart highlighting the world of Graphic Novels and library-wide programming and multiple displays for Month of Austen.
One Book, One Valley
The sixth year of the county-wide community reading initiative One Book, One Valley took place as community members joined together to read “High Divide” by author Lin Enger. 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, United Way and Aging Well Eagle County, the library offered several life enriching programs for seniors from throughout the valley. Examples included herb and flower planting, nature outings such as a harvest program at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens Education Center, and creating wildflower-like vases and self-care products. These programs provide benefits to the seniors as it relates to emotional, intellectual, social and stress relief. Gentle Yoga is also offered to the seniors in partnership with Eagle Valley Senior Life on Monday afternoons.
Healthy Lifestyle Series
The library continued its Healthy Lifestyle Series. Offerings included a Hypnosis for Health class, a Fermentation program and Gentle Yoga twice/week, plus meditation classes each Tuesday. Also, Introduction to Country Western Dance was offered each week during the summer months and beginning in November the library began offering Zumba classes each week.
Adult Summer Reading Program
For the third year, the library offered an Adult Summer Reading Program. The theme was “Build A Better World.” Those who participated received a booklet with activity-related raffle tickets that were put into a drawing for one of three prize baskets. This year, there were 20 participants in the Adult Summer Reading Program, with 171 activity/raffle tickets submitted.
Outside the Lines
The library participated for the third year in Outside the Lines, a national initiative to get libraries out into the community with a focus on community partnerships. The program kicked off in September with the 2nd Annual Family Scavenger Hunt around Vail Village and Lionshead. In addition, library staff hosted another book giveaway day at City Market in Vail where free books were distributed and staff members visited with community members about the library. New this year for Outside the Lines was the planting of a Little Free Library in Ellefson Park, which had been built by the participants in the Teen Summer Reading Program earlier in the year.
Common Cents for Colorado
Since 2015, Vail Public Library has participated in the Common Cents for Colorado program, a financial literacy initiative designed to provide individuals with the information and skills they need to manage their finances. The two-year program concluded in 2017. During the course of the Common Cents for Colorado program, Vail Public Library presented 52 Common Cents seminars with a total of approximately 833 participants. These classes included not only seminars held at the library, but also presentations made to local high school classes, senior citizen group and for the Town of Vail Housing Program lottery participants. Although the Common Cents grant program is finished, it provided the library with resources, materials and an enhanced financial literacy collection which will allow the library to continue to provide financial literacy programming independently going forward.
Children’s Services @ your library
The library’s partnership with Red Sandstone Elementary School entered its sixth year in 2017 during which classes visited the library monthly to borrow materials and discover how to use its vast resources. Vail Mountain School classes also visited during the year. The library’s Summer Reading Program supported, encouraged and entertained students over the summer break. The summer saw the Teen Summer Reading Program explode with Little Free Libraries. Teens met at the library several times during the summer months to build, paint and decorate boxes that were later installed in various parks in Vail and Eagle County. The library also offered educationally supportive programs: Reading Buddies pairs teens with younger students for shared reading. Also, there will be continued collaboration with The Bookworm of Edwards during their annual children’s writing contest. Tech Studio and Robotics Club continued to offer computer and digital opportunities to young patrons. 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 Pizza, Vail Public Works, Vail Environmental Sustainability and Avon Library.
Bilingual Story Time
The library began offering bilingual story time in June in an effort to connect our English-speaking families with our Spanish-speaking families. This program is offered every Saturday morning which makes it flexible for parents and Vail is the only library in Eagle County that offers such a bilingual program on weekends. All activities – stories, songs, games & crafts are presented bilingually. Typically, 10 to 15 children attend this program every Saturday, both locals as well as guests.
Books for Babies
The library’s “Books for Babies” initiative, a collaboration with Vail Health Medical Center Foundation and their Women & Children’s Center completed its fourth year thanks to the generosity of the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation in which bilingual baby books were given to all newborns. New in 2018, the library will be partnering with Vail Health to provide books to hospitalized pediatric patients.
Tech Studio (Vail Public Library MakerSpace)
Tech Studio continued to grow during the year as partnerships were formed with Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy and collaboration with researchers at the Steadman Clinic to explore 3D printing projects. The Wednesday and Thursday Open Studio sessions saw attendance nearly double in the second half of 2017 and the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality system has proven extremely popular with adult and senior patrons. Younger patrons turned out in droves for the Tech Studio portion of library events including a well-attended Harry Potter Party. A basic and advanced robotics program will be introduced in 2018, reaching out to new user groups to include entrepreneurs and artists and expanding outreach to the schools.
The library began an ongoing process to update its website at vaillibrary.com by expanding online information about its many services, including classes and programs, to make the library a more welcoming place digitally as well as physically. This process will continue into 2018 as the library’s digital archive collection will go “live” through Marmot’s participation in the Digital Public Library of America.
The library continued its participation in the Actively Green program with additional training at Walking Mountains Science Center. A new monitoring system for composting and recycling was implemented. Programming also focused on education and use of a new waste/recycle/compost bin for the Community Room. The library was certified Actively Green in 2015 and achieved Gold Level Status in the State of Colorado’s Environmental Leadership Program awarded by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in 2016. Vail Public Library remains the only library in the state to have achieved this status.
National Library Week
For the seventh 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 $915 of fine money waived in exchange for overdue library materials.
Work progressed during the year in augmenting the existing Vintage Vail Quilt project with ‘now’ pictures of the sites depicted in the quilt panels as well as launching two new projects, Vail Valley Voices and Art in Public Places that will be going live in 2018. Vail Valley Voices will include 5 oral histories and will grow each year as new ones are added. The digital collection companion for Art in Public Places maps out permanent installations and includes links to additional information about artists and art.
Friends of Vail Public Library
This volunteer group of library advocates and volunteers raised funds for the library in a variety of ways. In 2017, the Annual 4th of July Bake Sale brought in $1,062, and proceeds from the Annual 4th of July Book Sale were $984. Proceeds from the Book Sale Nook total $2,509 year-to-date. In November, the Friends also sent out their annual appeal to previous donors, Vail homeowners and Vail seniors, resulting in $5,825 to date.
In partnership with Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea, the library began selling teas and coffee to support its Digital Archives initiative. This initiative will bring the voices of Vail - past, present and into the future - to the world through the library's online catalog beginning in 2018.
Online Citizen Portal
A new online citizen portal was introduced by the community development department in May that allows customers to submit applications for contractor registration and various construction-related permits, fire permits and public works permits. The portal, at vail.onlinegovt.com, also accepts planning applications for review by the Design Review Board and Planning and Environmental Commission. In addition, residents can access the citizen portal to submit a code enforcement request or check to see the status of any permit activity in their neighborhood. The department worked for more than a year to customize the portal to provide efficiencies for the community.
The town added to its existing Facebook presence with introduction of a new main page as an additional way to interact with community members and to share announcements on town-sponsored community events, town-funded special events, environmental activities, neighborhood services and more. The town’s Police, Fire and Library pages continued to thrive with accounts established previously.
Great Place to Work
The town was certified as a Great Place to Work following a review of workplace ratings by town employees in anonymous surveys. To achieve the independent certification, survey metrics must exceed a 70 percent benchmark. The town was the only municipality certified and one of only 18 organizations in Colorado to be recognized.
Healthy Workplace of the Year
The town was the recipient of the Healthy Workplace of the Year presented by the Vail Valley Partnership during its annual Success Awards in May. The award recognized the town’s comprehensive employee-based health and wellness initiatives undertaken by the human resources department.
Supervisor of the Year
Vail Public Safety Communications Center Supervisor Bonnie Collard was named 2017 Supervisor of the Year by the statewide chapter of 9-1-1- professionals during a presentation ceremony in April sponsored by the National Emergency Number Association and Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials.
Call of the Year
Fire responders Josh Hebrew, Mitch Raines, Kraig Leach and a paramedic were presented with the “Call of the Year” award by the Eagle County Rotary Clubs during the fourth annual Public Safety Appreciation Awards Night during the fall. The call involved the successful rescue of multiple unconscious individuals suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Eagle County Public Safety Appreciation Award
The Vail Public Safety Communications Center’s Incident Dispatch Team consisting of James Hubbard, Amber Droegemeier, Charles Fleming and Fernando Almanza received a 2017 Unit Citation for Meritorious Service from the Eagle-Edwards-Vail Rotary Clubs in recognition of its successful deployments to two wildland fires, assisting the US Forest Service and BLM wildland fire management teams with on-scene communications. In addition to the fire deployments, the team was deployed to numerous training scenarios and public relations events throughout the year.
In November, dispatcher Whitney Jameson was awarded the Vail Police Department Life Saver award for her action during a medical call. Jameson calmed family members and gave lifesaving CPR instructions over the phone for several minutes before other responders arrived to take over the procedure.
Citizen of the Year
Rick Collier, a volunteer in the police department, was named citizen of the year by the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police in June. The award recognizes the meaningful role volunteers play in providing services to the community and to law enforcement. Collier has served as the department’s volunteer coordinator since 2011.
Professional Manager of the Year
Charlie Turnbull, street superintendent, was named Professional Manager of the Year by the Colorado Chapter of the American Public Works Association in May. Turnbull is a 40-year veteran of the town and has become one of the town’s most experienced, trusted and versatile managers.
Colorado Tourism Leadership
Laura Waniuk, event liaison specialist, in the Economic Development Department, was selected to join the inaugural class for the Colorado Tourism Leadership Journey, a year-long executive training program aimed at building the state tourism industry’s bench strength. The class represents a cross-section of Colorado’s tourism industry, including the ski, casino, hotel and beer industries as well as academia and several of the state’s destination marketing organizations. The curriculum encompasses facilitated sessions, required reading, one-on-one mentoring, action learning projects and experiential learning opportunities in three Colorado locations.
Outstanding Parks and Trails Project
Also recognized by the Colorado Chapter of the American Public Works Association was design and construction of the Zeke M. Pierce Skatepark as an Outstanding Parks and Trails Project. The skatepark is considered among one of the best in Colorado. Todd Oppenheimer, the town’s capital projects manager, led the effort, while Molly Eppard, Art In Public Places coordinator, managed the installation of complementary mosaic art pieces.
Bicycle Friendly Community
The town retained its ranking as a Silver Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists following an assessment. Vail was elevated to a silver designation in 2014 after earning a bronze status in 2009. To apply for the designation, applicants must complete a detailed online form with numerous questions in five key areas: engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation/planning.
East Vail Fire Station
The East Vail Fire Station renovation received an Award of Merit for 2017 by the Engineering News-Record, a weekly publication that provides news related to the construction industry. The judging team recognized the project for its storm water quality improvements, innovative use of space and sequencing the construction so as to allow continued fire department operations throughout the nine-month remodel.
Chili Cook-off Winner
Vail Fire took home the first place prize during the 30th Annual Firefighter Chili Cook-off held in September in Denver’s Larimer Square. Hosted by Denver Firefighters Local 858, the Chili Cook-off raised $30,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Rocky Mountain division. The event draws firefighters from departments as far away as Fort Worth, Texas, and New York City. It was the second time Vail Fire participated in the event after winning the prize for “Best Chili Con Carne” last year. Vail Fire’s entry was sponsored by the Vail Professional Firefighter Association.
Board and Commission Appointments
Board and Commission appointments during the year included: Brian Gillette, Karen Marie Perez, John Ryan Lockman to the Planning and Environmental Commission; Doug Cahill and Peter Cope to the Design Review Board; Margaret Rogers and Sara Bristol to the Art in Public Places Board; Luca Bruno, Ross Cohen and Bart Longworth to the Vail Local Licensing Authority; Francisco Meza to the Vail Housing Authority; Samantha Biszantz, Rayla Kundolf and Kim Newbury Rediker to the Vail Commission on Special Events; and John Dawsey, Jessie Klehfoth, Cindy Krieg and Laurie Mullen to the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council.
Ryan Kenney, a 22-year veteran of the Boca Raton Police Department in Florida, joined the department in June as one of the department’s commanders. He replaced Daric Harvey, who left the department to become chief of police in Canon City. Officer Rusty Jacobs is retiring after the new year with more than 26 years on Vail’s police force. Fran Micka retired in October after 15 years with the department.
Promotions included Zach Miller and Dustin Elliott to lieutenant; Jake Savona to captain; Michael LeBlanc and Jared Olson to engineer; and Jacob Engle, David McWhorter, Airek Streetz and Ryan Talaska to firefighter.
Community Development Department
Christopher “CJ” Jarecki was hired as chief building official in October. He joined the town’s building division after spending 12 years at the University of Colorado Denver where he held various positions, including facility operations supervisor, outage coordinator, inspector and building official. JR Mondragon, deputy building official, left the town for new opportunities in December after 29 years of service with the town. His professionalism, knowledge of the town’s building codes and exceptional customer responsiveness contributed greatly to the department’s service standards. Lynne Campbell was promoted to housing coordinator in January 2017. Campbell began her tenure with the town in 1998 and was most recently the office manager for the Community Development Department.
Economic Development Department
Kelli McDonald, economic development manager, resigned in September after 10 years on the job. She was credited with helping to create a unified approach to marketing the Vail brand year-round and for her professionalism and extensive partnerships she forged throughout the community. In November, Mia Vlaar was introduced as the town’s new economic development director with a start date in January 2018. In making the announcement, Town Manager Greg Clifton said Vlaar brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position, having served in a number of corporate, government and non-profit marketing and management roles since moving to the valley in 1988. She most recently served as the director of sales and marketing for East West Destination Hospitality.
Public Works Department
Retirements during the year included Rudy Sandoval following a 31-year career and James Martinez after 17 years.
Kathleen Winfield retired after 21 years with the library. In addition to her skills in reference services, she was responsible for print materials, accounting and compiling the library’s statistics.
Memorial 5k Run
Police hosted a 5k run on May 6 to honor fallen Police Officer Ryan Cunningham, the only officer to lose his life in the line of duty with the department.
Vail said good-bye to a number of long-time pioneers during the year, including Bob Parker, Lou Meskimen, Dr. Tom Steinberg, Byron Brown and Morrie Shepard. Their significant contributions to the community were remembered during memorial services.