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Vail Resorts on Monday issued the following statements rejecting a Town of Vail offer to buy the Booth Heights workforce housing land in East Vail from Vail Resorts for $12 million after moving to condemn the property to protect a herd of bighorn sheep in the area:
Today, Bill Rock, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Mountain Division for Vail Resorts, notified the Vail Town Council that the company declined the offer to purchase Lot 1 and Tract A of the East Vail Workforce Housing Subdivision. For Vail Resorts, this is not, and has never been about money. This is about building affordable housing that the Town desperately needs now to support the hundreds of employees who are the Town’s lifeblood and who make both Vail Mountain and the Town of Vail a world-class destination.
Vail Resorts has appreciated the past five years of collaboration to bring affordable housing to this parcel, and doesn’t believe that condemnation is warranted or appropriate. Rather than spend this money to condemn affordable employee housing for those that are the lifeblood of the Town, Vail Resorts hopes that the Vail Town Council will consider using the $12 million to instead implement measures that will actually help protect the bighorn sheep herd.
Quote from Beth Howard, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Vail Mountain
“My goal is to hire and train a team that delivers on our commitment to be the World’s Premier Mountain Destination. That is increasingly difficult for me and my fellow business leaders in the community due to the lack of affordable housing in and around Vail. I’ve lived here for decades, and the problem continues to get worse.”
Quotes from Bill Rock’s Letter to the Town of Vail (excerpted from letter to town)
“For Vail Resorts, this is not, and has never been about money. This is about building affordable housing that the Town desperately needs now to support the hundreds of employees who are the Town’s lifeblood and who make both Vail Mountain and the Town of Vail a world-class destination.”
“Vail Resorts’ application to convert the overwhelming majority of its property to NAP [Natural Area Preservation] —for the benefit of the bighorn sheep—while providing much needed affordable housing to the community on the East Vail Parcel had broad support from the Town of Vail and was received with significant enthusiasm by the Town’s staff and its Council.”
“While the Town of Vail has apparently and inexplicably made an about-face in the last several months, Vail Resorts’ goal has remained the same for the past five years: to work with the Town to develop affordable housing needed by both the Town and the Mountain, while committing to mitigate any impact to the bighorn sheep.”
“The Town’s decision to convert the East Vail Parcel into open space therefore permanently eliminates affordable housing on a parcel that is not only able – but fully entitled – to provide such housing in a Town that already does not have enough land left to develop. That is something no amount of money can fix.”
“After five years of collaborative efforts between Vail Resorts and the Town Council, including significant effort on the part of both entities to prepare a robust and meaningful mitigation plan to protect the bighorn sheep… this Town Council’s decision to eradicate those efforts and turn shovel ready affordable housing into open space in a Town that is so limited in available, developable land, and in an area that already has luxury homes and significant human activity within it, is inexplicable.”
“Vail Resorts hopes that the Council will consider using the $12 million it offered to Vail Resorts to instead implement measures that will actually help protect the bighorn sheep herd. Even a fraction of the Town’s $12 million for shutting down affordable housing could have a huge impact on protecting the herd from all potential domestic threats. Indeed, as the Town’s own application relating to its public works employee housing project located in the middle of the bighorn sheep range stated, ‘housing generally does not make much of an impact’ on bighorn sheep.”
Additional Quote from Kate Schifani, Director of Mountain Operations for Vail Mountain
“As the leader of a team that operates 24-hours a day, seven-days-a-week, my biggest fear is my team’s commute to and from work, especially during snowy conditions. I have teammates that commute from Leadville, Colorado – at best 45-miunutes away in clear conditions – because they can’t find a place to live in Vail. Last season I got a phone call that one of my most dedicated snowmakers got in a terrible accident while commuting home from a shift making snow for our guests. He’s okay. Luckily another teammate who also commutes to Leadville saw his car lodged under a semi-truck and she stopped to help. But I am dreading the phone call that one day, one of my teammates isn’t okay. They deserve more housing opportunities in Vail, because these commutes present very real challenges.”