Vail at the Crossroads

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Wiessner emerges from the clerk's office and walks over, saying that none of the residents he talked to during his door-to-door canvassing had anything bad to say about the developer. "A lot of people like the project and think it will be great for the town," he adds. "And just as many others think it's too tall. But I personally don't have any problems with you at all."

Knobel looks unsure of what to make of Wiessner's peace offering, but the two shake hands anyway. Wiessner acknowledges that the battle in the lead-up to the special election will be much more heated. But Knobel, with his attorneys cross-checking every signature on the petition, shrugs off the suggestion that Solaris faces a difficult road ahead.

On April 26, the Vail town clerk announced that there were enough signatures to put the proposal to a vote this summer. The date has yet to be set, but the campaigns have already started.

Directly across the highway from Vail Town Hall is the Middle Creek affordable-housing complex, which was built in 2004 to alleviate Vail's housing crunch for resort and town employees. When the project was first proposed, some longtime Vail residents railed against it, calling the project the "Cabrini Green of the mountains." But the pro-Crossroads Citizens for Change group sees the complex as a place to score possible votes, and has already held a free barbecue for residents.

"Yeah, it was great," reports one complex employee. "It got everyone together to see each other. And then there was a registration table with information about Crossroads. And they had beer, too."

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Jared Jacang Maher