Members of the Breckenridge Town Council began discussing this month an overhaul of town’s existing parking and transit protocols to create a high-level “people-moving” system that would keep cars outside the downtown area and visitors circulating inside.
The conversation marries, for the first time, possible solutions to two of the town’s biggest issues.
“There’s sort of a dynamic where transit is joined at the hip with parking,” Councilman Ben Brewer said at the town council’s retreat May 7. “The more convenient our transit system is, the more usable it is and the nicer it is, the less parking is a problem. If we build it for cars, we’ll get cars.”
Town leaders discussed creating a model that would encourage pedestrian activity within the core of Breckenridge and attempt to keep vehicles largely on the outskirts by making in-town parking more expensive and installing a circulation system that is simpler and more enticing to use. Reducing the use of cars within town has long been a priority for a number of Breckenridge leaders.
“We want to embrace a process that creates an excellent system that enhances our guests’ experience and our walk-ability,” Mayor John Warner said.
It’s a project town officials said they were ready to take on with or without the partnership of Breckenridge Ski Resort (BSR).
The promise of action to improve the town’s transit system was included in the election platforms of several sitting council members, but the initiative stalled out in the last year after the town spent several months trying to collaborate with the resort.
Two significant BSR-owned parking reservoirs in Breckenridge, the north and south gondola lots, are slated for development in the next few years. The resort’s current plans have those spaces being replaced with large parking structures, which are unpopular with some council members.
Officials are looking for replacement parking for a few town-owned lots, which are also planned for development or other uses.
“We have sufficient parking,” Councilman Mike Dudick said at the retreat. “The question is, is there a better plan for where we should put the parking spaces in the future?”
Members of the council discussed answering that question with a new approach, which they compared by turns to models seen in Disney World, London or Vail, with large parking reserves set away from the action and made accessible with transit service. Some floated the idea of using a tax on the sale of lift tickets to help fund such a system.
“I think we need to embrace a whole master plan of people moving and transportation and guest arrival experience that we believe services this community and then go approach the ski area,” Councilwoman Wendy Wolfe said.
The council placed the issue on among their top 10 priorities for the year and have said they plan to have a larger discussion on the topic in the future.