Vail Daily column: Parking matters in Vail | VailDaily.com

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Vail Daily column: Parking matters in Vail

Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from a report by the Vail Homeowners Association board of directors. The association keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the Vail community. The electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at http://www.vailhomeowners.com.

Adequate parking, its related public safety issues and affordable housing are Vail's most pressing and intractable issues. These have long been subjects of concern for the Vail Homeowners Association and matters that we have frequently reported on.

Now, after years of gridlock on parking, there has been some progress, although the major issue continues to be ignored. There has also been some progress on the housing front, albeit only incremental and Vail's major initiative seems stalled. At the same time, affordable housing appears on the verge of trumping master planning and zoning, as developers seize on offering housing as a way to increase density. This report is an update on these subjects.

• The parking gridlock: In response to growing concerns about the availability of adequate parking, last July the Town Council began discussing increasing the mountain lift ticket tax as a means of financing additional structured parking. That quickly drew the attention of Vail Resorts, which promised to meet and discuss parking with the town of Vail, and the increase in tax was tabled. Since then, with one notable exception involving the reactivated Parking Task Force, not much has happened.

While there reportedly have been meetings between the town of Vail and Vail Resorts, nothing is known about those meetings or any progress toward solutions; there are no plans for any new structured parking, and Vail Resorts' long-standing commitment of $4.3 million for parking continues to go unused. At the same time, Vail's No. 1 public safety issue — overflow parking on South Frontage Road — continues to grow worse, raising more concerns about when a serious accident or worse is going to happen.

• Any port in a storm: Recently, there was some council interest in exploring whether a new parking structure at the Red Sandstone Elementary School, which is part of a proposed modification to the school, could be expanded to include public parking. But, this location is far away from the nexus of parking needs, and a joint school board-town of Vail project is fraught with difficulty.

The Vail Homeowners Association believes this kind of a solution should not be seriously entertained, unless there are realistic studies to show that the location, financing and management are workable. Vail Homeowners Association seriously doubts that it is.

What you can do: If these are matters that concern you, then get informed and become involved. Government responds to the public; silence only enables others with different agendas to act in your absence. If you are not already a member, then join the Vail Homeowners Association. Together, we will continue to shine a spotlight on these issues that concern everyone.

The Vail Homeowners Association board is Gail Ellis, president; Judith Berkowitz, secretary; Rob Ford, treasurer; and directors Jamie Duke, John Gorsuch, John Lohre, Andres Nevares, Trygve Myhren, Larry Stewart and Doug Tansill.