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Former Vail Town Manager Terry Minger to receive 2022 Vail Trailblazer Award

February 16, 2022, 2:29 pm
Terry Minger and some famous friends then.

The Town of Vail on Wednesday issued the following press release on former Vail Town Manager Terry Minger being recognized with the 2022 Vail Trailblazer Award:

Thought leader and visionary Terrell “Terry” Minger has been selected as the 2022 Vail Trailblazer Award recipient presented by the Vail Town Council. Minger served as Vail’s Town Manager from 1969 to 1979 and was responsible for laying the groundwork for Vail’s most enduring qualities during an era that transformed an evolving village with dirt streets into a master planned community with qualities that have stood the test of time.

Terry Minger now.

The annual Vail Trailblazer Award honors those who contribute their time and talent to make Vail a great resort community. Minger will be formally recognized at the March 1 evening Vail Town Council meeting in which a mayor’s proclamation honoring his significant contributions will be read into the public record. Recognition will also take place during the Town of Vail Annual Community Meeting which will be held in person on March 8 at Donovan Pavilion.  

In announcing the 2022 Trailblazer recipient, Vail Mayor Kim Langmaid says Minger has had a profound impact in challenging community leaders through the decades to be innovative and bold. “In the early days of Vail, Terry played a large role establishing the town’s ethic and framework for environmental stewardship and sustainability. He worked with the Town Council to create a legacy of programs and projects we benefit from today. When I was getting started in my career, Terry was leading a nonprofit and included me in the 1999 development of the Sustainable Slopes Charter for Ski Areas and in 2001 convening United Nations delegates preparing for the Earth Summit in Johannesburg. He helped put Vail on a global platform which in part led to our success in becoming the first certified sustainable destination in the US recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. Our Town Council is grateful for all of Terry’s work on behalf of Vail.”

Minger was one the youngest town managers in Colorado when he was recruited by Vail founder Pete Seibert and Blake Lynch, Vail’s first town manager, to move to the mountains to progressively lead creation of a new town. Minger, who was 26 at the time, had been working as an assistant city manager in Boulder after obtaining an MBA from the University of Colorado. 

Upon his arrival, Minger hit the ground running and set out to create what he called a “next generation municipal government” that would parallel Pete Seibert and Earl Eaton’s dream to build an internationally acclaimed ski resort. One of his most prized accomplishments was to spearhead creation of the Vail Town Charter, approved by voters in 1972, which created the first home-rule town in Colorado. The self-governance document has provided an enduring framework for protecting the integrity of the town and controlling its destiny. 

Minger was also instrumental in creating a forward-thinking master plan for the community adopted in 1973. Its visionary components included an emphasis on pedestrian connections and many of the other qualities for which Vail is known: rigorous design standards and procedures to ensure architectural and landscape compatibility; creation of a transportation hub to provide centralized parking, transit and visitor information services; strict time management restrictions for loading and delivery activities in Vail Village; extensive network of bicycling and walking trails throughout town; emphasis on open space acquisition and landscape beautification to reduce impacts of sprawl; and development of a major community park-cultural center at Ford Park.

The inspiration for the big ideas included in the master plan was rooted in the Vail Symposium, the community think-tank founded by Minger in 1971. Innovative for its time, the Vail Symposium connected the young town to the outside world of ideas, education, art, politics, science, business and environment, and was used to shape Vail’s values, beliefs and aspirations. Today, more than 50 years later, the Vail Symposium continues to stimulate community enrichment through its multi-faceted programs.

Throughout the 1970s, the community came into its own with Minger helping to lead initiatives and actions that would include: opening of Red Sandstone Elementary School, acquisition of the land that would become Ford Park, approval of a 1% real estate transfer tax for the purchase of open space, and approval of a series of bond issues used to build underground parking in Vail Village and Dobson Ice Arena.

Minger’s wife, Judy, also contributed to Vail’s success, teaching 3rd and 4th grade at Vail’s first public school located above the medical clinic. Together they raised a daughter, Brie, who is an art teacher.

Minger says he is honored by the Trailblazer Award recognition and acknowledges it took a village of committed community members to act on the new ideas including John Dobson, Joe Langmaid, John Donovan, Pete Seibert, Rod Slifer, Gerry White, Dr. Tom Steinberg, Jim Slevin, Josef Staufer and many others. “This wasn’t about me. It was a group of people who understood we had a job to do – to transition from a company town to a community,” he said. “It was a close-knit place where we all knew each other and we needed each other to get this community in place.”

Following his time in Vail, Minger went on to serve in a variety of roles spanning the public, private and not-for-profit sections. Most notably, he was hired to help develop Whistler-Blackcomb resort in British Columbia, Canada, and served as President and CEO of Sundance Enterprises, a resort, film and fine arts community founded by actor and environmentalist Robert Redford, who had been the Vail Symposium’s keynote speaker in 1974. 

Minger’s presence continues to be felt in Vail. He is currently a co-founder and advisor to the Vail Alliance for Purposeful Living, created in 2001, and remains involved with the Vail Symposium. 

The Vail Trailblazer Award was established during the town’s 50th birthday celebration in 2016. Minger is the seventh recipient to be honored and was selected by a Town Council committee from among other deserving nominations. 

Minger’s recollections of early Vail have been documented in the Vail Public Library’s Valley Voices collection available at www.vaillibrary.com.

For more information about the Vail Trailblazer Award and the nomination process, visit the town’s website at www.vailgov.com/trailblazeraward.

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