Editorial: Dillon’s dilemma
Sometimes even when we win, we lose. That’s the dilemma the Town of Dillon faces in its ongoing battle with the owners of the Yacht Club Condominiums in town. At issue is the fact that, since it was built in the 1960s, condo owners have used town right-of-ways for parking because the building was designed without enough parking spaces. The town now wants those cars out of the way for a recpath project, but condo owners say that, since the town approved Yacht Club Condominiums all those years ago, they have a legal precedent that can’t be overturned.
And they’re right. In his ruling last summer, Judge Terry Ruckriegle said the town can’t ticket or tow cars near the condos since such use was allowed when the building was originally constructed. At that point, the Town of Dillon should have cut its losses and figured out a workaround for the recpath. But instead, the town is now appealing the ruling, ensuring not only continued legal expenses for the town but the ongoing ill will such proceedings inevitable produce.
It’s unfortunate to see a town at war with a segment of its population over a relatively trivial matter. We encourage the town to abort the appeal and head back to the table with mediators to resolve this dispute with the Yacht Club homeowners association. Because even if they win the appeal – still a year away and by no means certain – they’ll have lost by having spent all that time and money and incurred a commensurate lack of trust and respect not only from Yacht Club owners but other town homeowners who park on town streets and who might understandably be wondering: Are we next?
The town is a little more on the right track in its belief that it needs to make the Lake Dillon Amphitheatre more of a revenue producer and less of a drain on town funds. Plans to fence it in, offer some higher-end concerts the town can charge for and revving up concessions all make sense as Dillon, like all municipalities these days, looks to bolster the bottom line.
But this will all need to be done very carefully. Dillon’s amphitheatre is, along with the marina, the town’s crown jewel – a community gathering place much loved by residents and visitors in summertime. If it suddenly turns into, say, the Ford Amphitheatre in Vail – a stuffier, spendier place featuring mostly high-brow entertainment at high prices – the town risks losing much of what the amphitheatre represents. And short of a large-scale effort to fund and market a high-end slate of performers, we don’t see Dillon ever being able to attract the kind of paying patrons Vail does.
That said, amphitheatre fans need to realize that a soft economy makes it tough for a small town like Dillon to continue providing such things for free. For those who love Dillon and its summer offerings along the lake, it’s time to pony up and help the town keep those great programs going.
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