Daycare Shelved (Briefly) For Airport Radar

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Well, when it comes to a choice between a radar for the airport and a new day-care center, there's just no contest for the people of Vail, Colo. They'll take the radar (although that doesn't mean they won't get the day care, too). Civic officials are considering diverting $1.5 million already budgeted for the day-care center to pay the local share of a $6 million radar that should prevent thousands of well-heeled tourists from missing all or part of their vacations due to weather. And since construction on the center wasn't scheduled to start until after ski season, city officials figure they can juggle the budget and still break ground for the kids' facilities next spring. It appears some miscommunication between the city and the FAA caused the financial flap. It seems the agency is actually planning installation of the radar a year sooner than Vail expected, much to the delight of the locals. It's estimated about $63 million is lost each year because of weather-related delays and cancellations at Eagle County Airport, and the new equipment is expected to greatly improve access by the six airlines now flying into Vail. Trouble is, the county didn't have its share budgeted for this year because it didn't expect the bill to come due until 2005. County Commissioner Arn Menconi told the Vail Daily that the radar "is one of our top priorities" and didn't want to let the opportunity slip by. County administrator Jack Ingstad said he's not about to let that happen, either. "We'll figure out how to get them the $1.5 million," he said.