Mountain News 

Vail getting too pompous?

By Allen Best

VAIL, Colo. – Maybe third time will be charmed at Vail’s Bridge Street, where town officials have struggled for nearly a decade with what to put into the middle of Seibert Circle, the plaza named after resort founder Pete Seibert.

The debate goes back to 1997, when Seibert was still alive. Some thought he needed to be acknowledged with a statue. Others demurred, and so the town enlisted Jesus Morales, a well-known sculptor, to create stoneworks that metaphorically represented the landscape of the Gore Creek Valley.

Nobody was particularly enamored of the result, least of all pedestrians. So, despite the $700,000 spent on the sculpture, the town several years ago stored the rocks and installed innocuous landscaping. This too, pedestrians have ignored. And then yet another idea, an obelisk with some water fountains, was also shot down.

Now, if business owners along Bridge Street succeed in raising $122,000, the town will spend altogether $672,000 for yet another vision: water in a fountain that jumps and cascades, intermixed by cloud-bursts of fire. The idea was conceived by the same company that created the fountain at the Ballagio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

In an interview with the Vail Daily, one of Vail’s best-known figures, hotelier Sheika Gramshammer, herself once a dancer in Las Vegas, poo-pooed the idea. “We are not an Olympic village,” said Gramshammer, a native of Austria but 40-plus year resident of Vail. “We are getting too pompous. Everything has to be big and expensive. Why not keep it simple.”

The “this-is-the-place” Seibert sculpture, meanwhile, has moved a short distance, to the base of the ski mountain.


Another big box in I-70 corridor

GYPSUM, Colo. – A Costco is now open in Gypsum, located between Vail and Glenwood Springs. With that new store, seven big boxes of at least 100,000 square feet can be found along the rapidly urbanizing I-70 corridor.

Drawing customers from Aspen to Breckenridge to Steamboat Springs, the 155,000-square-foot store is a tax bonanza for Gypsum, a one-time blue-collar precinct that is also about to get its first gated community. Gypsum expects $3 million to $4 million annually from Costco, allowing the town to pay for its new recreation center twice as fast as was originally projected.

In the neighboring town of Eagle, there’s less to like. Because of a revenue-sharing agreement, the town will get about 10 per cent of revenues, but at least half the traffic impacts. With that in mind, some locals found poetic justice in the fact that independently scheduled work on a new traffic roundabout delayed some travelers intent on getting to the store’s grand-opening.


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