North America's Premier International Resort Community
The Town of Vail experienced numerous successes during 2015, highlighted by the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in February which generated world wide attention and amplified the resort’s preeminent leadership position. A continued focus on upgrading infrastructure and amenities to maintain Vail’s competitiveness resulted in decisions to move forward with a major remodel of the Vail Golf and Nordic Clubhouse, provide additional funding to ensure construction of the Vail I-70 Underpass, facilitate construction of the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens Education Center and build a state-of-the art skatepark. All the while, the town’s financial health remained strong with sales tax collections headed for another record year.
In October, the Town Council celebrated the opening of the first phase of the Lion’s Ridge Apartment Homes, representing the community’s first large-scale rental housing to be constructed in years. Also of community significance was approval of a master facilities plan for Vail Valley Medical Center which allows for a phased expansion of the hospital campus. Another action from the town’s environmental strategic plan was implemented during the year with distribution of free reusable bags to offset a plastic bag ban at the grocery stores while efforts to promote Vail’s new community wide recycling regulations continued. Also, community members applauded the Police Department for its role in breaking up a major drug ring and congratulated the Vail Public Safety Communications Center upon being named Colorado’s 2015 Communications Center of the Year.
As 2015 was coming to an end, a transfer of leadership took place with Dave Chapin taking over as mayor and Jenn Bruno as mayor pro tem, while recognizing the many accomplishments of outgoing Mayor Andy Daly and Mayor Pro Tem Ludwig Kurz, as well as the eight years of service on the town council by Margaret Rogers and two years of service by Dale Bugby. These and other examples of the town’s activities for 2015 are detailed below.
Town Council Election
Voters seated two new council members and returned two former members during Vail’s Regular Municipal Election on Nov. 3. Newcomers Kim Langmaid and Jen Mason finished in the top two places with former council member Kevin Foley taking the third of the four-year terms. The race for the fourth seat, a two-year term, saw incumbent Ludwig Kurz and former mayor Dick Cleveland in a tie with 406 votes each after the polls closed. However, once the overseas and active military ballots were received and counted, Cleveland edged out Kurz to claim the fourth seat. The election included seven candidates with newcomers Doe Browning and Mark Christie also participating. Council seats once held by Andy Daly and Margaret Rogers were filled by the newly elected members due to term limits. Also serving out his term on Town Council was Dale Bugby who decided not to run for re-election.
Transfer of Leadership
For the first time since 2011, Vail transitioned to a new mayor and mayor pro tem following the November election. Dave “Bone” Chapin was unanimously selected by the Town Council to serve for the next two years as mayor, while Jenn Bruno was selected as mayor pro tem. Chapin and Bruno are completing the last two years of a four-year term after winning election to the Town Council in 2013.
After serving eight years as a member of the Town Council, including four years as mayor, Andy Daly presided over his last meeting on Election Day and was recognized for his many contributions. Among the successes during Daly’s tenure included strengthening relationships with the town’s partners, upgrading public facilities to complement the millions of dollars in private sector improvements, leveraging special events as an economic development tool with the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships as a crowning achievement, improving public safety with construction of the West Vail fire station, continued progress on the Gore Creek Water Quality Plan and leaving the town in the best financial shape it has ever been in with excellent reserves and no direct debt. Daly noted the town has an enormously capable and dedicated staff under the leadership of Stan Zemler, calling him one of the most respected town managers at any resort community in the western U.S. Also during the Election Day meeting, Margaret Rogers was recognized for her eight years of service on the Town Council, including her contributions to strengthen the town’s focus on environmental stewardship, special events and the cultural arts.
Vail I-70 Underpass
Final approval of the town’s participation in construction of the Vail I-70 Underpass took place in the spring following a series of meetings and public hearings. Escalating construction costs and design refinements increased the project’s cost estimate by 40 percent from an earlier estimate, causing the Town Council to increase its funding allocation from $6 million to $8.7 million, while the Colorado Transportation Commission agreed to increase CDOT’s funding allocation from the original $14.8 million to $21.4 million for a total project budget of $30.1 million. During the fall, initial detour paving work was completed in anticipation of an April 1, 2016 construction start. The detours will be used to divert traffic to a head-to-head configuration on either the eastbound or westbound side of I-70 while the underpass bridge is built on the opposite side of the highway. The project has a December 2017 completion target and will exclude noise walls based on results of a preference survey by adjacent properties.
A Vail delegation’s fact-finding trip in May to share information with counterparts in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, resulted in a reciprocal visit in July where a new Sisterhood agreement was crafted between the two resorts. Facilitated by Mayor Andy Daily, the one-year agreement outlines numerous partnerships, including educational, environmental and cultural exchanges, as well as identification of tourism and promotional opportunities. The town has had a Sister Cities relationship with St. Moritz, Switzerland, since 1982. In 1997, a partnership was forged with Delatite Shire/Mt. Buller, Australia, which resulted in a series of student and employee exchanges.
The Vail Town Council joined with the Eagle County Commissioners in inviting members of the community for a series of ski outings during the year. The networking sessions allowed the officials to connect with one another and their constituents in a casual setting against the backdrop of the outdoors.
Annual Town Meeting
The success of the Alpine World Ski Championships and other major milestones were celebrated during the 15th Annual Town of Vail Community Meeting on March 31. Mayor Andy Daly’s state of the town address included an update on the town’s strong financial performance with record sales tax collections for the third year in a row and the role of special events as an economic development tool.
Retail Marijuana Policy
A temporary ban on retail marijuana sales in Vail, in effect since July 15, 2014, and extended several times, became permanent following a vote by the Town Council in August. The vote followed public testimony and emails from the community in support of the action. One of the provisions of Colorado Amendment 64, approved by voters in 2012, allows municipalities to “prohibit the operation of marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana product manufacturing facilities, marijuana testing facilities, or retail marijuana stores through enactment of an ordinance. The Town Council action allows for a review of the retail marijuana sales ban every three years.
Continuing Vail’s tradition of conservative budgeting while placing an emphasis on operational adjustments to help sustain incremental service increases in transit, facilities and special events, the Town Council adopted a $72.4 million budget for 2016. The budget adjusted the full-time employee headcount by seven employees for previously approved bus and parking services and added five employees, including a police drug investigator as a pilot program, ultimately returning staffing levels to that of 2009. The budget also includes investment of $860,000 in signature events to include $400,000 for the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships, plus $30 million for capital projects including $5 million for renovation of the Municipal Building; $3.5 million for replacement of eight buses; $3.2 million for construction of the I-70 Vail underpass in partnership with the Colorado Department of Transportation; $2 million for redevelopment of Booth Creek Park; $1.5 million for renovation of the East Vail fire station; $1 million for Golden Peak recreational facilities improvements; and $1 million for water quality projects, 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 current year-to-date revenues of $20.2 million, up six percent compared to the prior year. This represents the fourth year in a row for record sales tax. Year-to-date Real Estate Transfer Tax collections of $5.7 million were pacing 4.4 percent behind last year; however, 2014 was a record year since the peak in 2008. While construction permit revenue of $1.9 million was lagging behind 2014 record levels, it remained 15 percent greater than the five-year average. Construction Use Tax of $2.2 million was down slightly from the prior year as well.
2014 Audit Report
The independent audit report for 2014, completed and presented to the Town Council in 2015, again found the town in a strong financial position, due to its conservative fiscal practices. The town increased its financial position by $13 million from annual revenues exceeding expenditures on operations and capital projects. It was noted that some of the expenditure “savings” stemmed from large capital projects that continued into 2015. Town assets totaled $200 million, with $119 million or 60 percent of that tied up in capital assets such as land, buildings and equipment. Town reserves totaled $74 million at year-end. Evaluators reported that the town had a “clean” audit opinion and reinforced the solid financial position of the town due to no debt and stable reserves. It was also noted that the town did not have any deficiencies in internal controls or financial reporting.
FIS Alpine World Ski Championships
With 14 days of thrilling races and phenomenal hospitality throughout Eagle County, the community experienced the largest, most impressive multi-day event Vail has ever hosted with the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, Feb. 2-15. The Local Organizing Committee, with representation from Mayor Andy Daly and Town Manager Stan Zemler, received high praise from the International Ski Federation for hosting an event that exceeded expectations on all fronts with an estimated 130,000 spectators filling the stands for the races and crowds of upwards of 200,000 when the ancillary events at Championships Plaza at Solaris in Vail and Après Avon were included - plus an estimated television reach of 1 billion viewers. All the while, more than 700 public safety representatives worked to strike a balance in creating a friendly and secure environment under the leadership of a unified command structure headed by Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger, Eagle County Sheriff James van Beek, Colorado State Patrol Major Barry Bratt and Eagle County Paramedic Services CEO Fred Morrison.
Keeping Vail in a Leadership Position
Throughout the year, the Town Council directed its focus toward a series of priorities that had been aimed at keeping Vail in a leadership position now and in the future. Strategies were developed around the focus areas of technology, physical improvements, seamless guest experience, leadership and broadening the sustainable economy. The desires of millennials became a topic of interest, as well.
Short-Term Rental Regulations
In March, the Town Council approved additional regulations for short-term rental properties to address various equity issues raised by the lodging community. As of July 1, the new regulations require short-term rental properties to post their Town of Vail sales tax account number in all advertisements of those rentals. Beginning Jan. 1, 2016, all short term rental properties in Vail renting more than 14 days per year will be required to obtain an annual business license from the town regardless of the location of the business management office. Previously, management companies located outside of Vail were not required to obtain a business license.
Twenty-eight events received support from the town in 2015 with allocations of $850,000 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. The allocations included three newly funded events. Funded at $15,000, the FIPS Mouche World Youth Fly Fishing Championships made its American debut in August as a preview to the World Fly Fishing Championships that will be hosted in Vail in 2016. Receiving $55,000 and capitalizing on the new Ford Park athletic fields, the annual Kick-It 3v3 Soccer event doubled in size from a regional invitational event to a national championship. Also funded at $25,000 was the Vail Outlier Mountain Bike Festival, a new enduro mountain bike race held in late September on Vail Mountain and accompanied by a weekend long world class cycling expo and demo village. In addition to the 28 events funded by the CSE, the Town Council allocated $1.3 million in economic development funds to support activities in its iconic event category, including 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships, Bravo!, Burton US Open, Vail Jazz Festival, Vail International Dance Festival and Hot Summer Nights.
Burton US Open
The 33rd annual Burton US Open Snowboard Championships saw some of the world’s greatest snowboarders again converge on Vail for four days of intense competition and family fun March 4-7. The town again provided $400,000 in sponsorship money for the third year to help bring the event to Vail. The event’s return on investment included $3 million-plus in direct economic impact from attendees and over 1 billion media impressions world wide.
Eagle Air Alliance
The town provided funding to the Eagle Air Alliance to support efforts to grow air service at the Eagle County Regional Airport. Discussions also continued during the year on the prospect of a future ballot question to seek a dedicated funding source for airline flight guarantees. Helping to facilitate increased flights from EGE is one of the Town Council’s stated priorities.
Fifty new business licenses were processed by the town in 2015 including 16 new retail establishments, 2 new lodging/property management businesses, 13 food and beverage licenses and 19 in the “other” category.
Vail Golf and Nordic Clubhouse
In September, a public groundbreaking ceremony was held to mark the start of the Vail Golf and Nordic Center Clubhouse renovation project. The groundbreaking followed approval of an $8.175 million construction contract with Evans Chaffee Construction Group. A lawsuit filed against the town in 2012 by a group of adjacent homeowners had caused the Town Council to suspend the project for a time until a District Court ruled in the town’s favor in 2014 which was appealed by the plaintiffs. To keep the project moving, the Town Council passed a resolution during the year extending the 2013 approval by the Planning and Environmental Commission of a conditional use permit that authorized the clubhouse remodel. The original approval expired in June 2015. Following the groundbreaking, the Colorado Court of Appeals issued a unanimous decision in favor of the town and the Vail Recreation District regarding the neighbors’ lawsuit that had challenged the project. The lawsuit filed by eight property owners sought a declaratory judgment from the court on four separate grounds: 1) that an existing restrictive covenant (the Pulis Covenant) prohibited the renovation; 2) that the town’s Real Estate Transfer Tax funds could not be used for the clubhouse renovation 3) that the use of certain funds for the renovation violated the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights (TABOR) provision of the Colorado Constitution; and 4) that the renovation was not consistent with what Vail voters approved in 2011. By an 87 percent margin, voters in 2011 had approved a ballot question authorizing a reallocation of conference center fund dollars for “expansion and improvement of the clubhouse, including multi-use community space.” The judgment by the Colorado Court of Appeals was the last of a series of court proceedings involving the project. Previous efforts included a motion for a preliminary injunction to stop the town’s authority to relocate the 18th hole at the golf course, which was denied, plus various procedural challenges in the town’s development review of the clubhouse renovation. Mayor Andy Daly said the appeals court ruling had validated the town’s decision-making process and reinforced the Town Council’s decision that the clubhouse remodel is in the best interest of the community. “I’m pleased the Town Council had the fortitude to keep the greater community’s interest at the forefront of this project so we could appropriately transform the building to meet the needs of current and future users in a way that will make us all proud by this time next year,” he said. Construction will be completed by fall 2016 with continuous operation of golf and Nordic operations in temporary facilities.
Ford Park Lower Bench Improvements
Another phase of improvements to Ford Park took place during the year with the focus on the lower bench area. The project included construction of a new restroom, playground improvements, utility work and installation of concrete pavers on Betty Ford Way to the Manor Vail covered bridge. Previous phases have included renovation of the athletic fields, construction of a new concession stand and restrooms, plus renovation of the Ford Amphitheater. The last phase of improvements scheduled for Ford Park will be wayfinding enhancements and entry portals which will take place in 2016.
Covered Bridge Repairs
Structural repairs to the Covered Bridge in Vail Village required a one month closure of the iconic landmark beginning in April. The work included repairs to the bridge girders, new decking and staining to help preserve the bridge well into the future. Due to safety precautions, a stretch of Gore Creek was temporarily closed to boating for a time to coincide with the repairs.
Gore Valley Trail Improvements
Reconstruction of the Gore Valley Trail recreation path between Lionshead and West Meadow Drive took place during the spring. The work included installation of two steel truss bridges, streambank stabilization work, realignment of a portion of the trail and replacement of the existing asphalt paving.
Designed with input from local skaters, ground was broken on Vail’s new skatepark in the fall. Located in an unused space between the two parking decks in Lionshead, the site was first suggested by Cameron Chaney, a student at the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy, who successfully helped pitch the idea to the Town Council. The $1.7 million skatepark will be completed in June 2016 and will include a public art component. After eight seasons, Vail’s temporary skatepark was dismantled in October and donated to the town of Eagle for future use.
Municipal Building Access
During the fall, the driveway entrance to the Municipal Building parking lot was relocated to the west to coincide with expansion of Vail Valley Medical Center. The project accommodates a change in traffic flow by improving the alignment of the two driveway intersections on the South Frontage Road. Landscaping will complete the project in the spring of 2016.
Betty Ford Alpine Gardens Education Center
Following a fundraising campaign that has so far reached $3.3 million of its $3.6 million goal and an aggressive construction schedule, the new Education Center at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens opened in July. The 3,000 square foot center is located next to the playground in Ford Park and includes interactive displays on the mountain environment, a unique alpine house for displaying plants year-round, plus work stations for environmental research, horticulture and education programs. The town had contributed $500,000 toward the project.
Municipal Building Redevelopment
Discussions to redevelop or remodel the town’s municipal building continued during the year with various site plans reviewed and discussed including the possibility of relocating the Municipal Building to the Chamonix site in West Vail which was ultimately discarded by the Town Council. Various parking scenarios were also studied including the feasibility of constructing a multiple level parking structure on the site which included an area atop the structure set aside for future development. In the end, the Town Council directed staff to study options for remodeling the existing municipal building and report back to the Town Council the findings of the study. The 2016 budget includes $5 million for the remodel project.
Cornerstone Residences Development Plan Extension
In December, the Town Council approved a one-year extension of the approved development plan for the Cornerstone Residences, located at 1276 Westhaven Drive. The action represents the second such extension dating to February 2010. The development plan includes 23 dwelling units, four new employees housing units and 625 square feet of new commercial/retail area. The extension runs to June 1, 2017 and allows time for a new ownership group to evaluate options in moving forward with the development.
Vail Marriott Residence Inn
Following demolition of the Roost Lodge to make way for a new Vail Marriott Residence Inn, a four-story building with 176 hotel units and 165 underground parking spaces, the project was put on hold during the spring due to market forces. The site was re-vegetated in the fall of 2015. Preparations are underway in hopes of a spring 2016 construction start.
Significant progress was made during the two-plus year construction of The Lion at 707 W. Lionshead Circle. The development is a seven-story, mixed-use building with 69 residential dwelling units and street level retail space, scheduled for a fall 2016 completion.
Vail Valley Medical Center Master Facility Plan
A master plan to direct a two-phase expansion of the Vail Valley Medical Center campus was approved in March by the Town Council after a lengthy review process by the Planning and Environmental Commission. Notable improvements contained in the plan include increased on-site parking, moving emergency traffic off West Meadow Drive to create a safer pedestrian environment, relocation of the emergency helipad and enclosed loading and delivery facilities. The plan was used as a guiding document to evaluate a development application for expansion of the hospital’s west wing which broke ground in August. An east wing expansion application is forthcoming.
Evergreen Lodge Redevelopment
An amendment to the Lionshead Redevelopment Master Plan was being reviewed by the Town Council as the year was coming to a close. The amendment was drafted to facilitate the future redevelopment of the Evergreen Lodge at Vail. The centerpiece of the amendment contemplates a land exchange between the Evergreen Lodge and Vail Valley Medical Center that will provide opportunities to improve pedestrian circulation along the South Frontage Road and a connection to West Meadow Drive; eliminate surface parking on the site; create an enclosed loading and delivery area; and add protections to Middle Creek, among other refinements. In reviewing the amendment, council members have prepared a list of topics for additional exploration.
Ford Park Summer Event Parking
Incremental improvements to the managed parking program at Ford Park were implemented during the summer to improve the overall efficiency of the Ford Park lot and to create equitable parking opportunities. The pilot program included a reconfiguration of the lot to include a combination of paid public parking spaces and reserved patron parking spaces to be used on peak event days. The lot remained free on non-peak days. A recommendation to continue the program will be reviewed by the Town Council for the 2016 summer season.
Summer In-Town Route Extension
A new daily extension of the town’s in-town bus route to Ford Park via Vail Valley Drive that operated from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. June 14 to Sept. 30 was implemented as part of a summer parking and transportation management plan. This was the fifth season of the plan which aims to improve utilization of the Vail Village and Lionshead parking structures. The operations included continued use of a Frontage Road express bus route that serviced Lionshead, Vail Village and Ford Park on special event days to offset Frontage Road parking restrictions and the new in-town route extension.
The managed parking program for the 2015-16 winter season included no price increases in season parking passes and value cards. Prices have remained unchanged since the 2008-09 season.
Frontage Road Parking
Overflow parking on the Frontage Road continued to be monitored during the year. There were 10 days of overflow parking during the winter season while the summer season recorded 20 days of overflow.
Booth Creek Park Renovation
Final design concepts were approved during the year for renovation of Booth Creek Park. Components include a new playground, a double tennis court, picnic shelter, restroom, walkways and on-street parking. Planning for the renovation included extensive community involvement with neighborhood meetings, site visits, town council discussions, online participation and a kids’ workshop to provide ideas for the new playground. Booth Creek Park is the last of Vail’s six neighborhood parks in line for a major renovation. Construction is scheduled to begin in May 2016.
Golden Peak Racquet Sports
A decision to improve the Golden Peak Racquet Sports Facility was made by the Town Council in November following a site visit to the facility. In directing a $1 million line-item for court improvements in the 2016 budget, the Town Council directed staff to proceed with a recommendation to upgrade the facility to include six pickleball courts, parking and ADA improvements to accommodate the growing sport. The facility currently contains a full tennis court and four pickleball courts. In making the decision, the Town Council noted that tennis was not being displaced as two hard surface tennis courts had been approved as part of the Booth Creek Park renovation project.
Community picnics at Donovan and Bighorn Parks were hosted by the town for the 16th 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.
Lion’s Ridge Apartment Homes
In October, construction of the first phase of the Lion’s Ridge Apartment Homes was completed and opened to eager tenants. The remainder of the project will be completed in spring 2016 and will include a total of 112 one and two-bedroom units, replacing the eastern half of Timber Ridge. Built by Gorman & Company, Inc. with local developer Jen Wright of Wright and Company, the opening capped a multi-year effort on the part of the town to partner with a private developer. The town continues to own and operate the 96 Timber Ridge rental units on the western side of the property.
A new housing position was added to the Community Development Department in June with Alan Nazzaro selected to join the staff as housing manager. His duties include coordination of day-to-day management of the housing team and the development of the town’s long-range housing policies, plans and programs. Nazzaro has 30 years of experience in community development, housing, land development and redevelopment. Upon his arrival, Nazzaro’s skills were immediately tapped to help lead the Chamonix housing development in West Vail. His hiring doubled the town’s housing resources which has included a housing coordinator for many years.
With an improvement in market conditions, the town returned its focus to the vacant 3.6-acre Chamonix parcel in West Vail as the site for Vail’s “newest residential neighborhood for families.” It was determined that 100 percent of the units will be for-sale deed-restricted homes. Density discussions ranged from 15 to 25 dwelling units per acre. After awarding a $596,886 contract with 359 Design in June, the scope of work was divided into two phases - 1) site access/infrastructure and entitlement; and 2) vertical construction. A development plan containing uses, development standards, parking and amendment procedures was prepared for work session discussions with the Planning and Environmental Commission and Town Council. This provides the regulatory framework for future decisions pertaining to target market; project density, unit mix and product type; development approach; funding options; level of subsidies; and cost/pricing strategies. A phased construction is planned with site access and infrastructure improvements occurring in spring 2016 and vertical building construction in summer 2016.
In January, the Town Council authorized the purchase of a one-bedroom 600 square foot housing unit at Vail Heights in West Vail. Funding for the $200,000 acquisition came from the town’s buy-down fund which is partially supported from collection of employee housing mitigation fee-in-lieu payments which began in 2007. The town took possession of the unit in the spring and it was added to the town’s employee housing rental pool, which now totals 52 units.
Lottery Master Purchaser List
Twenty-five qualifying home buyers became eligible for the town’s master purchaser list in July which is used to determine the order in which resales of town-facilitated deed restricted housing units are offered to buyers. The list is used for resales of 82 units at Vail Commons, Red Sandstone Creek, North Trail Townhomes and the Arosa Drive Duplex, where priority is given based on the number of years a person has worked and lived in Vail or elsewhere in Eagle County. During the year there were five resales. Of the 12 potential purchasers on the 2014 list, five were given an opportunity to purchase a unit. Of the 25 current lottery applicants, seven have been offered the opportunity to purchase a unit since July 2015.
Kick the Bag Habit
In March, the Town Council voted 4-3 to approve an ordinance to incrementally ban the use of plastic bags within the town. The Kick the Bag Habit became effective July 1 and eliminates carryout plastic bags at Vail’s two grocery stores, with paper bags available for a 10-cent fee for shoppers that forget to bring their reusable bags. To prepare for implementation of the Kick the Bag Habit, the town distributed more than 15,000 free reusable bags throughout the community and launched a bag share program. Since implementation in July, there has been an 85 percent reduction in monthly bag use.
Efforts continued during the year to provide on-the-ground education and recycling assistance to businesses and residents as well as to create on-line resources at lovevail.org. Local waste haulers worked through the challenge of collecting real-time data for waste and recycling tonnage but preliminary numbers indicate Vail has diverted about 26 percent of its trash from going to the landfill, just over the 25 percent goal adopted in 2009 and up from about 10 percent, but under the national average of 34.5 percent. A renewed outreach plan is underway for 2016.
Restore the Gore - Gore Creek Water Quality Action Plan
The Planning and Environmental Commission neared the end of a thorough review of the Restore the Gore – Gore Creek Water Quality Strategic Action Plan that has identified over 200 action items with the goal of restoring ecological conditions in Gore Creek. The plan focuses on 5 strategic areas including education and outreach, best management practices, site-specific projects, regulatory measures, and monitoring and study. The plan will ultimately be forwarded to the Vail Town Council for adoption in the first quarter of 2016.
Gore Creek Field Work
As part of the town’s effort to restore declining insect levels in Gore Creek, the town hired SGM of Glenwood Springs in April to map and collect a database of all storm sewer infrastructure and drainage basin information. Data collected from the project, which was completed in November, is being used to assist the town staff in tracking pollutant loading, updating maintenance activities and identifying gaps in water quality protection.
Stream Tract Encroachment
An additional tool to enforce stream tract encroachments within the town was approved by the Town Council in June. The ordinance helps facilitate the removal of a private encroachment on town-owned stream tract property at the town’s request. It also grants the town authority to remove the encroachment if the property owner fails to comply and to charge for cost recovery. The ordnance is similar to legislation adopted in 2007 that addresses abatement of dead trees. Following enactment, the town applied the new tool to facilitate removal of several encroachments by the end of the year. As of the fall, at least 17 known other documented encroachments remain to be addressed.
In recognition of the town’s growing environmental programs, Kristen Bertuglia was promoted to the new position of environmental sustainability manager in November after serving six years as the town’s first employee dedicated to environmental programs. Joining Bertuglia in December was Mark Hoblitzell who was hired as environmental sustainability coordinator.
Actively Green 2015
The 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships served as a catalyst for the launch of the 2015 Actively Green sustainable business certification program, which has resulted in over 40 businesses certified and 140 businesses trained in sustainable business practices throughout the valley, with a special focus on Vail. The program, implemented by Walking Mountains Science Center in partnership with the Ski Championships Environment Committee and the Town of Vail, is the first piece of a larger vision to have Vail become the first international certified Sustainable Destination in North America by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council in 2018.
EV Charging Station Upgrades
Drivers of electric vehicles were welcomed with upgrades to the town’s charging stations in the Vail Village and Lionshead parking structures. Funded by a $37,560 grant from Charge Ahead Colorado, the six new multi-port charging stations increased capacity from five cars to 17 vehicles at a time.
A wet spring created ideal growing conditions for significant populations of noxious weeds, causing the town to remind property owners of their responsibility to control the outbreak. The town offered its usual free property inspections to help residents manage noxious weeds on their property.
Town Clean Up Day
The 2015 Clean Up Day returned on May 15 with community members coming together to pick up nearly 90 cubic yards of spring-time trash. The town donated $25 per volunteer with proceeds donated to local non-profits.
Electronics Recycling and Paper Shredding
The town hosted its annual electronics recycling event in June, where over 7,000 pounds of computers, laptops, cell phones and anything and everything with a plug was collected, along with 10 filing cabinets worth of paper to be recycled. Participants were reminded of a state law that prohibits e-waste from being deposited in the landfill with other waste.
The fifth annual Sole Power Challenge, a green commuting challenge offered to the entire Eagle Valley and facilitated by the Town of Vail, generated over 150 participants. They logged over 32,000 miles in their daily commuting activities, which included cycling, walking, skating and other non-motorized travel. Their efforts prevented over 29,000 pounds of carbon from entering the atmosphere, the equivalent of taking 4 cars off the road for an entire year and the amount of carbon stored in 11 acres of forest.
Trees for Vail
The town sponsored the distribution and giveaway of 100 native tree and shrub species as part of its annual Trees for Vail program in October. Reinstated in 2009, Trees for Vail has included volunteer planting projects as well as the free public giveaway to residents.
Town-wide energy conservation efforts continued with the award of the Think Big Grant from Holy Cross Energy, supporting a $500,000 project to convert all street and remaining building lighting to LEDs. Since the town’s 20 percent by 2020 energy and greenhouse gas emissions goals were adopted in 2009, the town has cut electricity use by 43 percent alone, and has nearly reached the 20 percent goal five years early by reducing overall energy use by about 18 percent. With new facilities and expanding energy needs the town continues to look for future opportunities for reductions as well as renewable energy.
Police responded to over 36,000 calls for service, wrote approximately 1,800 incidents reports and about 400 traffic accident reports during the year. Officers arrested or summonsed nearly 750 people and issued citations to about 800 people for traffic and code violations.
Detectives managed 80 new cases in 2015 while also seeing existing cases through adjudication. There were four death investigations, two determined to be non-criminal in nature and two are pending results from the coroner. In crimes against persons requiring extensive investigation there were two cases of attempted homicide: a road-rage shooting and a Good Samaritan assaulted. There were six cases of some level of assault, four felony sexual offense investigations, three child abuse investigations, a bomb threat and a crime against an at-risk adult. Detectives also investigated thefts, larceny, burglaries, suspicious fires and financial crimes.
Drug Task Force
The Vail Drug Task Force assembled in March to combat high-intensity drug activity in Vail. Due to the success of the unit, an additional full-time narcotics detective was approved by Town Council and the Town Manager.
Drug Ring Bust
A local drug ring was broken up in June with the arrest of 15 people and the grand jury indictment of nine following a three-month investigation into drug trafficking in Vail. No one was injured in the operation and the defendants were taken into custody without incident. In carrying out the arrests, police seized firearms, cash and numerous types of drugs including cocaine, ecstasy, LSD and heroin. Investigators identified The Underground bar at 304 Bridge St. in Vail Village as a nexus of the criminal activity. The bar was closed by the Colorado Division of Revenue as a result of the investigation. Following the arrests, Police Chief Dwight Henninger said the department remained “vigilant and tenacious in protecting the safety and security of our community.” Sentences for all offenders are pending.
Hash Oil Lab Arrest
A joint investigation by the Vail Police Department and the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office led to the arrest of a Vail resident. The 28-year old male was charged with felony marijuana offenses, including operation of an illegal hash oil lab at his residence. Investigators seized the lab, marijuana and U.S. currency. Butane hash oil labs pose serious threats to the community and are becoming more common across the country. Producing hash oil - a by-product of marijuana - and the use of butane to extract the hash oil from marijuana is an extremely dangerous and highly volatile activity that can result in large explosions, causing extreme bodily injury, death and property damage. The location of drug labs in residential neighborhoods is a great concern. Vail narcotics detectives are targeting felony-level drug activity by targeting drug dealers, traffickers and manufacturers.
Good Samaritan Critically Injured
As the year was coming to an end, a good Samaritan was recovering from injuries he received after intervening to help the victim of a domestic violence assault at a Vail Village hotel on Dec. 6. The suspect was quickly apprehended and charged with a number of felonies including criminal attempt to commit first-degree murder. The good Samaritan had been visiting from Florida.
Fire & Emergency Services Calls
Vail Fire & Emergency Services responded to approximately 1,700 calls for service in 2015. This number is made up of 48 fire calls of various types, which are broken down into 14 vehicle fires, 6 wildland fires, 20 structure fires and 8 miscellaneous fires. The remainder of the calls for service included 43 physical rescues, 577 emergency medical calls, 538 false alarms, 83 hazardous materials incidents, 7 other types of hazardous calls, and 404 other calls for service. Vail Fire & Emergency Services also responded to calls for assistance out of Vail approximately 160 times during the year.
Fire officials credited activation of an automatic sprinkler system for minimizing damage to a condominium unit at Lion Square Lodge during a kitchen fire on New Year’s Eve. Damage was estimated to be less than $5,000 and water damage was minimal as each unit was equipped with its own sprinkler shut off. In November, a fire in the kitchen at Manor Vail Lodge was also quickly extinguished by the activation of a sprinkler. The fire was caused by the improper storage of cleaning rags. In June, a fire in a unit at the Lodge at Lionshead promoted the fire department to issue a reminder about the dangers of storing flammable materials. In this case, cleaning supplies and paints had been stored in close proximity to a water heater which triggered the fire. Damage was estimated at $5,000. An additional reminder was issued to advise property owners to contact the department when locks or keys are changed. In this instance, a search of the adjacent units was slowed when the department didn’t have keys to all of the units.
A lightning strike in July ignited a small wildfire on U.S. Forest Service land above the Potato Patch neighborhood in Vail as a storm moved through the area. The affected area was less than an acre and no structures were damaged. Crews from Vail Fire and USFS monitored the situation throughout the night and into the next day when crews were able to safely access the fire and extinguish it.
Vail Intermountain Vegetation Management Project
Vail fire officials joined with representatives from the U.S. Forest Service to help develop a proposal for a forest health and fuels vegetation management treatment program to remove dead and diseased trees on USFS land near the Intermountain neighborhood. An environmental assessment of the project was to be completed by the end of the year. The project envisions the use of a helicopter to remove dead trees as well as thinning and pile burning. Various cost-share scenarios are being evaluated.
Improved ISO Rating
An improved ISO rating that could mean reduced fire insurance rates for some property owners was announced by the Fire Department. The new rating, 2/2X, from the Insurance Services Offices became effective Nov. 1 and was an improvement from the last inspection in 2010, due in part, to construction of the West Vail fire station. The rating is based on an evaluation of the town’s fire suppression system, the 911 dispatch system as well as the water supply available for firefighting. The ISO rating is used by many insurance companies as part of their underwriting process to determine availability of insurance, coverage levels and premiums.
Text to 9-1-1
In January, the Vail Public Safety Communications Center announced it had added Text to 9-1-1 to its system, enabling users to text directly to 9-1-1 from their cellular phones. Accessible through the four major carriers - AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint – the countywide service was just the third county in Colorado to join the system following Pitkin and Larimer counties. The system was successfully used in a backcountry medical incident. The “caller” did not have enough cell service to make a call, but was able to send a text. Dispatchers communicated with them by text over the next several hours, until Vail Mountain Search and Rescue was able to reach the sick person.
Vail Public Safety Communications Center Mobile Communications Unit
The Vail Public Safety Communications Center deployed its Mobile Communications Unit (MCU) to assist the Eagle County Sheriff’s office and other agencies during an armed robbery incident in Gypsum. On Sept. 4, a bystander tried to stop an armed man who had attempted to rob a business in Gypsum. The suspect opened fire, seriously wounding the good Samaritan, and fled the scene. While deputies and officers in the area were busy locking out nearby schools and canvassing the surrounding neighborhoods, Dispatcher James Hubbard drove the MCU to Gypsum and set it up to provide coordinating communications to field units in the area. THE MCU provided radio communications, CAD, computer and phone support to incident commanders while they searched the area for the suspect as part of a multi-agency response. The suspect was later located and arrested in Garfield County.
See Something. Say Something.
More than 1,500 event volunteers participated in a series of security trainings in preparation for the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. The training was sponsored by the Denver-based Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab and focused on providing citizens with the tools necessary to recognize and report suspicious and criminal activity. The training resulted in a heightened awareness during the championships and a safe and secure event.
Is it possible that Vail could be the third most dangerous city in Colorado? Of course not! The ranking by the website RoadSnacks.net caused the police department to take time to set the record straight on what seems obvious to most – the survey data is flawed. Vail is, indeed, a very safe place and the department works hard to maintain a safe and secure environment.
In the spring, public safety officials issued several reminders about the dangers of fast moving water after being called out on several swift water rescues. The calls prompted officials to remind boaters to report their missing gear when becoming separated in swift water to avoid the danger of an unnecessary search and rescue mission.
The Police Department hosted its first-ever Q&A session via Twitter and Facebook to increase its outreach to the community in January. Questions ranged from the Alpine World Ski Championships to marijuana laws, and were answered by Cmdr. Daric Harvey and Communications Supervisor Jennifer Kirkland. The Police and Fire Departments have a strong social media presence with a combined 3,442 Twitter followers and 2,775 collective likes on Facebook, respectively.
Online Transaction Safe Zones
To decrease the risk of becoming the victim of a crime, the Police Department announced the establishment of safe zones for online buyers and sellers to finalize transactions. Customers were encouraged to use the department lobby and the video-monitored Municipal Building parking lot for the online exchanges with police personnel on hand to check serial numbers to ensure items are not stolen.
The Fire Department was presented with a $6,091 donation from Neil-Garing Insurance and Fireman’s Fund to purchase new breathing masks. Chief Mark Novak said the new equipment will provide a greater level of safety for Vail’s firefighters.
Click it or Ticket
Police took part in the statewide Click It or Ticket Campaign in May, devoting over 65.25 hours of patrol time to seat belt enforcement as a reminder to motorists that using your seat belt will significantly increase your chances of surviving a serious traffic crash. The local campaign resulted in 20 citations and 19 warnings. Because the seat belt law is a secondary offense, drivers were stopped for another offense before receiving a citation or warning.
Police spent most of the spring and summer advising residents and guests to use caution around wildlife. The alerts followed numerous reports of moose sightings in Vail.
Chain Possession Inspections
The Police Department teamed up with the Colorado State Patrol periodically during the year 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. During a check on April 22, 433 trucks were contacted with 26 individuals receiving tickets for not having chains.
Operation Tire Safe
Having adequate snow tires or chains on Interstate 70 was no longer a message for truckers, as the Vail and Avon police departments and the Colorado State Patrol worked to alert drivers of passenger vehicles to check their tires before hitting the road. New this year, the Colorado Department of Transportation began enforcing “Code 15” and “Code 16” on mountain roads. Code 15 is the traction law that requires all tires to have a minimum one-eighth tread. A Code 16 is to be implemented during severe winter driving conditions in which every vehicle on the roadway will be required to have chains or an alternate traction device, such as an AutoSock. The local public safety agencies partnered with local tire distributors to offer coupons for discounts off the cost of new tires as part of an overall awareness campaign that included free tire checks.
National Drug Take Back Events
Police participated in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day during collection events in the 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. Significantly more was collected than has been collected in the past with a total of 78 pounds. The Colorado total was 20,369 pounds and the national total was 1,190,758 pounds.
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 the skatepark in Lionshead in which officers and police volunteers answered questions and distributed information as residents stopped for a free barbecue.
Wildfire Readiness Training
Emergency response agencies participated in a wildfire readiness training exercise in August. Coordinated by the Vail Fire Department, the exercise simulated a wildfire that was staged in the Potato Patch neighborhood on the north side of Interstate 70. During the training, responders focused on public notification and evacuation procedures, structure protection and containment methods. To coincide with the training, community members were asked to familiarize themselves with Vail’s evacuation plan at vailgov.com/evac and to visit readycolorado.com for preparedness information.
Transportation providers doing business in Vail were reminded that a permit is required to provide passenger service within the town. The permit system was established in 2012 to help regulate the town’s management of shuttles, limousines, taxis, buses and other transportation services, including Uber and Lyft.
The annual Stock the Pantry Food Drive collected over 48,000 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 15th year for the food drive, which was initiated by the Vail Police Department to commemorate national Make a Difference Day.
Vail Winterfest Sponsored by Triumph Partners and Kent and Vicki Logan
For a third season, Vail residents Vicki and Kent Logan joined alongside Triumph Partners to bring The Eighth Annual Triumph - Logan Winterfest to Vail. Artist Paul Wertin’s exhibition Riverscape transformed the Gore Creek Promenade into an artful temporary exhibition featuring the seasonal mediums of ice and light for all guests and residents to enjoy.
Vail ART Pass
Art in Public Places introduced its new Vail ART Pass program in June for community members with an interest in the visual arts. For a $50 annual fee, the more than 45 ART Pass members gathered throughout the year to tour private art collections, museums, and artist studios, as well as opening receptions.
Call for Artists
It was a busy year for Art in Public Places issuing four public call’s to artists for public art integrated in capital projects.
In the spring, AIPP issued a call for public art and request for qualifications at the Vail Skatepark for which 50 artists applied from around the country. With a budget of $100,000 Valerie Theberge’s proposal was selected to create four large-scale unique mosaic murals which will be affixed to each side of the stairwell towers abutting the park. The artist, from Washington, D.C., will be present to install the murals in the spring of 2016. This will be the first mosaic medium in the town’s public art collection.
In another national call, 40 proposals were submitted for an art piece at the Vail Village Welcome Center. Paul Vexler’s Red Eddy sculpture was selected and installed in December. The work, which is suspended from the vaulted ceiling, is created primarily from Douglas fir. The undulating piece measures 48 x 48 x 216 inches. It was well received at a reception for the now completed remodeled Vail Village Welcome Center at which the Snohomish, Wash., artist was present.
Continuing with the tradition of collaborating with artists in Vail’s playground design, a public call was also issued for the redevelopment of the Booth Creek playground. Fifty-seven interested artists submitted applications for working with the design teams on this project. Art in Public Places and the Town of Vail design team is presently working with Denver’s Chevo Studios to incorporate yet another artful playground in Vail.
With a budget of just over $300,000, over 80 artists submitted their request for qualifications for the public art to be integrated in the Vail I-70 Underpass Project. The selected finalists will be notified after the New Year with a request for proposals for this large capital project.
Vail Paper Lantern Project
For a third season, Vail’s Paper Lantern Project invited residents and guests to come together as a community to share holiday spirit and goodwill during this magical time of year. Sponsored by Doe Browning, Art in Public Places organized lantern making workshops for the public and distributed lanterns and LED lights at the tree lighting. There was active participation by locals, especially students from Red Sandstone Elementary School. The project culminated with the first Lantern Walk through Vail Village after the Holidaze Tree Lighting with hundreds of participants.
One Book, One Valley
2015 marked the fourth year of this county-wide community reading initiative. This year’s title was “The Cold Dish”, first of the Walt Longmire mystery series by NY Times Bestselling Author Craig Johnson. This book has inspired the hit television series, “Longmire”, now in its fourth season and available on Netflix. Johnson appeared in person to an audience of well over 100 attendees at CMC Edwards in September.
Healthy Lifestyle Series
The library introduced a Healthy Lifestyle Series during the summertime. This will be an annual series featuring programs and events that focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The library offers a wide range of topics that include healthy habits for both mind and body by partnering with local people and businesses in the Vail Valley.
Adult Summer Reading Program
2015 was the first year that the library offered an Adult Summer Reading Program. Those who participated received a booklet with activity-related raffle tickets that were put into two prize drawings - the Grand Prize was a $50 gift certificate to Pepi’s plus two tickets to Cinebistro. Four special events were made available to participants: “Be a Hero Adopt an Animal,” “Veteran’s Night,” film showing of the movie “Unbroken” and an ice cream social as the finale event.
This Makerspace program (a place for creation, collaboration and innovation; a place to get hands-on experience in a variety of projects; a place where people with shared interests can come together) was offered as an open lab concept on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Tech Studio currently offers: 3D printing, BB-8, Sphero, Lego Mindstorms EV3, MakeyMakey, Littlebits, Photoshop and video editing software.
Common Cents for Colorado
The library was named to an elite group of 13 Colorado libraries chosen to participate in this new initiative. Common Cents for Colorado consists of a series of free educational workshops designed to teach the basics of financial literacy in a casual, stress-free environment. Workshop sessions cover the fundamental concepts used in personal money management, budgeting and planning, with the goal of improving individual and community understanding of financial concepts. The library will begin offering these workshops in January, 2016 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 from April 12-30. In an effort to recover overdue library materials, patrons were encouraged to return their overdue items without penalty or fine. The campaign resulted in $618 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 Fourth of July Bake Sale - $813; the annual Fourth of July Book Sale - $1063; and the Book Sale Nook - $2,140. The Friends also sent out their annual appeal in October to previous donors, Vail homeowners, and Vail Seniors (approximately 2,000 letters mailed) and, new this year, an email appeal also went out to the library’s MailChimp subscribers resulting in $10,668, to date.
eCommerce @ your library
In an effort to improve customer service, eCommerce became a reality. Patrons and guests may now pay fines/fees or make donations to the Friends using a debit/credit card (MasterCard and Visa). Fines and fees may be paid through the "My Account" functionality in the library's online catalog (vail.marmot.org/MyAccount/Home). Donations may be made from the "Support Your Library - Friends" page on the library's website (/vaillibrary.com/support-your-library-friends/).
Partnership with Betty Ford Alpine Gardens (BFAG)
The library now hosts the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens’ library in their new Education Center on the web and their collections are visible to all. Prior to this the Gardens’ library did not have a web presence. Their items may now be found by searching Vail Public Library’s online catalog via the web, vail.marmot.org or by searching the Alpine Gardens’ catalog, httpsvlbfg.marmot.org. The Gardens’ library items may not be checked out, but this partnership supports staff research and members' gardening needs. The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens new Education Center adds another dimension to their already strong presence in Vail.
Children’s Services @ your library
The library’s partnership with Red Sandstone Elementary is now in its fourth year. Classes come to the library monthly to borrow materials and discover how to use its vast resources. The library curriculum is presented in a “hands-on” manner by the Children’s Team with volunteer assistance from a Library Friend.
The library continued to offer educationally supportive programs throughout the year. Reading Buddies continues as a program pairing teens with younger students for shared reading. A canine Reading Buddy was added to the program this summer. A monthly Book Club for kids in grades 3-5 is now available; and last spring the library collaborated with The Bookworm on their annual Children’s Writing contest. The library hosted weekly meetings that allowed the kids to work on their essays with librarian support. Tech Studio, Hour of Code and the annual Summer Reading program rounded out the library’s programing for students.
Monthly events for elementary and pre-school aged children included an Earth Day celebration last April in collaboration with Walking Mountains Science Center and the town’s sustainability office. Over 40 students attended to learn about resources to guide them in Earth-friendly habits and they had fun making crafts with recycled materials. Last spring the library hosted a Children’s Spring Concert consisting of the Vail Mountain School (Lower School) choir, the VMS Coffee House Jazz Band and the Bravo! Vail piano students. This made for a memorable and musical afternoon in the library’s fireplace lounge.
Outside the Lines
The library participated in Outside the Lines, a global R-Squared initiative originally designed by Colorado library marketers and directors that gets libraries “walking the walk” – taking action to show communities how important libraries are and how they’ve changed. This weeklong international celebration in September offered a series of events designed to reintroduce libraries to their communities. Vail Public Library staff went to locations such as the Farmers’ Market, City Market and the Covered Bridge to share resources and information. The library plans to participate even more in 2016.
Most Connected Resort
The town earned the distinction of “most connected resort in North America” following completion of over 100 free wireless access points and the most technologically advanced outdoor LTE cellular system. The transformation took more than two years in a partnership between the town and Crown Castle International Corporation. The company invested over $5 million installing a state-of-the-art cellular system which dramatically increased cellular capacity and coverage throughout Vail, as well as an improvement in the speed of wireless Internet access. Additionally, the Wi-Fi system was completely rebuilt in Vail Village and Lionshead along with upgraded bandwidth to the Internet where users have unlimited access to free Wi-Fi by connecting to “vailwifi” with their Wi-Fi capable devices. During the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships, the system serviced over 78,000 user connections. A fiber optic network was also put in place at Golden Peak and the Village core which will enable connectivity for future special events.
Overhead Electronic Message Signs
Four overhead electronic message signs were installed at the Vail Town Center exit 176 in January as part of the town’s improved wayfinding signage. The message signs provide real-time information on parking access, road closures and other useful information and were designed to serve as a gateway to welcome arriving guests.
Online Lost and Found System
A new online retrieval system for lost and found items was launched concurrently by the town and Vail Resorts in January. The new system is supported by Chargerback, an online database that matches lost and found items and ships the property back to their owners if the item isn’t immediately recovered on site. The system was in use during the Alpine World Ski Championships and builds upon other technology-driven guest service enhancements initiated by the town and Vail Resorts. Since the launch, the system has returned more than 20 percent of the items turned into the department to their owners.
Council Meetings Live on Channel 5
Public Access TV 5 began broadcasting Vail Town Council meetings live on the station in the spring. In addition, PATV5 also announced that its cablecast programming on Channel 5 would be simultaneously shown on its website at publicaccess5.org. The new feature made live programming on Channel 5 available to people that don’t have access to the cable service.
Online Sales Tax
The Finance Department introduced an online option for submittal of sales tax returns and payments during the year. Since then, about half of all accounts have opted to use this online method. The participation rate is much higher than the 20 percent rate reported by other municipalities and has been well received with the online system creating efficiencies for both the town and its business partners.
Utilizing the latest in web development technologies, the vailgov.com website was redesigned during the year. The end result is a fully mobile solution that is easy to use and navigate from any device. The website includes a creative dynamic homepage that allows the town to showcase upcoming signature events, latest news and updates, services, transportation and government information. Key modules and tools deployed on the site include a user friendly navigation structure, document archives, social media feeds, live web cams, communication tools, alerts and notifications, and much more.
Vail Public Safety Communications Center: Best in State
The Vail Public Safety Communications Center was recognized as Colorado’s 2015 Communications Center of the Year by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officers and the National Emergency Number Association. The award was presented in April during a kickoff to National Telecommunicator’s Week, April 12-18. The Vail 9-1-1 Center was recognized for its contributions to professionalism, training accomplishments and its efforts during the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships. Staffed by 18 telecommunicators, five supervisors and one director, the Vail Public Safety Communications Center answers all 9-1-1 and non-emergency telephone for Eagle County emergency services. This was the first time the Vail Center has received the prestigious award. There are 96 communications centers in Colorado.
Outstanding Public Safety Professionals
Police Officer Craig Westering and Sgt. Chris Botkins were presented with a Lifesaving Award by the Eagle County Rotary Clubs of Vail, Edwards and Eagle, for their efforts in helping an intoxicated man avoid serious injury after breaking his fall from a seventh floor balcony during an incident in February. Also receiving recognition by the Rotary Club was Rebecca Pacheco of the Vail Public Safety Communications Center, who was presented with the Distinguished Service Award. The Rotary’s annual Leadership Award was presented to Police Chief Dwight Henninger for his work in heading the Safety and Security Committee for the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships.
Police Chief Peer Recognition
Police Chief Dwight Henninger was the recipient of a peer recognition award for his collaborative work in maintaining a safe environment during the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships. In May he was presented with the Terrorism Liaison Officer Executive Award by the Colorado Information Analysis Center in Arvada. CIAC is part of the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management within the Department of Public Safety.
Public Safety Council Commendation
Ben Walter, a Battle Mountain High School junior from Edwards, was recognized with the Citizen’s Meritorious Commendation Award by the Eagle County Public Safety Council during a public ceremony in April at the Vail Town Council meeting. Walter was recognized for his role in assisting the Vail Ski Patrol with an injured party after witnessing a crash on the mountain. The commendation award is presented to individuals that go above and beyond to aid a fellow citizen in time of crisis or injury. The safety council is made up of all the public safety agencies in Eagle County, including law enforcement, fire departments, healthcare personnel and multiple supporting agencies
Roadside Baby Delivery
Kelly Klein, a dispatcher for the Vail Public Safety Communications Center, was awarded a pink “stork” pin by supervisors after assisting a motorist who had called 9-1-1 to report his wife was in labor. Klein calmly and expertly assisted the caller with the roadside delivery of a baby girl before paramedics and firefighters arrived on scene. The caller, Eagle Police Chief Joey Staufer, was grateful for the assistance. Their heartwarming story was relayed by news outlets from across the country.
Arborist Certification for Wildland Coordinator
Paul Cada, wildland coordinator with Vail Fire and Emergency Services, was certified during the year as an arborist by the International Society of Arboriculture. Cada’s certified knowledge of tree care is beneficial to the community in that it allows him to develop strategies that maximize both forest health and help protect the community from wildfire. The voluntary certification is valid for three years and individuals are required to obtain continuing education units.
Ruther Serves on Urban Land Institute Advisory Panel
Community Development Director George Ruther was tapped by the Urban Land Institute to serve on an advisory panel in March to assess challenges and provide recommendations to the townspeople representing the three communities on Anna Maria Island, a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico off the west coast of Florida. The Urban Land Institute is a professional organization providing leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities. Ruther was part of an eight-member study panel selected from across the country.
Tourism Professional of the Year
Kelli McDonald, economic development manager, was named Tourism Professional of the Year by the Vail Valley Partnership in 2015. McDonald is responsible for leading the town’s marketing and special events initiatives which has resulted in record visitation and sales tax revenues. She’s held the position since its creation in 2007.
Colorado Safety Awards
In recognition of the town’s emphasis on a safe work and home environment, the employee Safety Committee was recognized with the coveted Safety Champion Award, presented by the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency (CIRSA). The town has received the award eight times for its positive safety practices across the organization. What’s more, Charlie Turnbull, street superintendent, was the recipient of the CIRSA Safety Manager of the Year. Turnbull was nominated by co-workers who commended his dedication to safety throughout his 38 year career with the town. Recent accomplishments of the Safety Committee have included increasing the number of AEDs (automated external defibrillators) in public buildings and around town, improved lighting in the police garage and a successful and safe delivery of municipal services during the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. In addition to Turnbull, Safety Committee members include Lori Aker, Paul Cada, Ernie Chavez II, Mark Hoblitzell, Rusty Jacobs, Nick Kettinger, John King, Sean Koenig, Sally Lorton, Albert Maes, Krista Miller, Keven Reijonen, Joyce Rihanek, Todd Scholl and Jordan Winters.
Board and Commission Appointments
Board and Commission appointments during the year included Ludwig Kurz to the Planning and Environmental Commission; Doug Cahill to the Design Review Board; Michael Kurz to the Art in Public Places Board; Luca Bruno, Ted Steers, and Amanda Zinn to the Vail Local Licensing Authority; Steve Lindstrom to the Vail Housing Authority; Kim Newbury Rediker, Mark Christie and Sheena Richardson to the Vail Commission on Special Events; Laurie Mullen, John Dawsey, Michael Holton and Jessie Klehfoth to the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council.
Zemler Leads CAST
Town Manager Stan Zemler became president of the Colorado Association of Ski Towns in November when then president Aaron Huckstep of Crested Butte lost his re-election bid for town council. Zemler had been vice president of CAST previously. He’ll serve as president until June 2016 when he will be up for re-election.
New Fire Chief
Mark Novak took over as Vail’s new fire chief in February, replacing Chief Mark Miller who left to become the new fire chief with Loveland Fire and Rescue Authority in Loveland. Chief Novak was formerly the assistant chief with the Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District.
Deputy Fire Chief Retires
Deputy Fire Chief Mike McGee retired from the department in May after 38 years in Vail. McGee’s accomplishments included playing a key role in implementation of the fire science program at Colorado Mountain College as well as the student resident program within the department. As a CPR instructor, McGee taught hundreds of people this essential skill and was selected to serve on the board of directors of Starting Hearts, the local non-profit that promotes free CPR and AED training. McGee was also known as an advocate for fire safety and fire prevention practices in Vail and throughout the state. McGee began his career with the department in 1977 as an unpaid resident firefighter. He soon worked his way through the ranks and was promoted to fire marshal in 1981 and deputy chief in 2000.
In March, Pam Brandmeyer, assistant town manager, transitioned from the Vail town staff after almost 35 years. Brandmeyer started with the town in 1980 as the secretary to the police chief/court clerk, followed by several years as the town clerk, then assistant to the town manager and subsequently assistant town manager.
After 14 years with the Police Department, Moses Gonzales retired as a code enforcement officer in June. Gonzales was known for his vast community service efforts over the years, including organizing the annual food drive, Shop with a Cop and actively organizing the Eagle County Public Safety Memorial Service, among other programs.
Kathleen Halloran was promoted to finance director in November, 2014 following the resignation of Judy Camp. Halloran had been the town’s budget manager and later assistant finance director since 2006. Carlie Smith joined the staff in January as the town’s new budget analyst.
Laura Waniuk joined the Economic Development Office in October as event liaison, working with the Commission on Special Events and the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council on marketing for special events funded by the Town of Vail.
Chris Neubecker was hired as planning manager in the Community Development Department, replacing Warren Campbell, who resigned to take a similar planning job in Sedona, Ariz.
Vail Communications Center Director Tom Banker left the Police Department in November to become the new Director of Operations, Plans and Readiness for Washington State.
The community said goodbye to Paul Johnston, a former mayor of Vail and owner of the Christiania Lodge, who died in March at the age of 81.
One of America’s most gifted sculptors, Jesús Moroles, of Rockport, Texas, passed away in June. His work, “Granite Amphitheater,” can be seen on the lower bench of Ford Park and serves as an inspiration for the community and promising artists. In 2008 Moroles was selected by the National Endowment for the Arts to be a recipient of the National Medal of Arts Award which was presented to him by the President of the United States, the highest award given to artists and arts patrons in the U.S.
Former Town of Vail streets superintendent Jim Hoza died in November following a brief illness. He was 62.