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Blown out of proportion

Phil Long

A little closer to home, Edwards on a Monday night! This area was just recently completed and there has never been adequate parking.

The parking issue in Vail, in all aspects, is blown entirely out of proportion. Parking is and will forever be an issue. There is no city or resort in the world that has been able to keep up with the explosion of the population and the subsequent traffic and parking deficiencies.

The people who think that we should be able to do what nobody else has been able to do are dreamers. The reality is that it is not feasible to build something to support just a few busy days of the year.

As a native of the state, I’m reminded of what people have said for years about Greeley and Monfort Cattle: It is the “smell of money.” In our case, cars on the Frontage Road are “the look of money.”

It does not make us look cheap. It makes us look busy and the perception is great. Skiers love it! Free parking! I agree that we should have more bus pickup areas along the Frontage Road on the busy days to increase safety and to shorten the walk to 50 yards to a pickup area instead of a half-mile walk to the slopes. And maybe this is a good time to begin a discussion on future additional parking.

But people, hang around this town in April, May, June, September, October, November, most of December. Monday through Thursday year-round. There is abundance of parking during those times. Even on Fridays and Saturdays during the season, the parking structure is only sold out for about five-six hours!

During most of the year, the Vail structure is modestly used while the Lionshead structure is virtually unused. By supporting another parking alternative, we are supporting a very expensive fix to a rarely occurring problem. Not feasible.

Last year the issue of “Free after 3” parking nearly turned the town upside down. So many angry people. So many meetings. So many hours of debate. People won’t come into town to shop and eat if they aren’t getting “Free after 3” parking? I really want to meet those people, because I have never heard that complaint by a tourist, ever.

Do any of the people that assert this ever get out? Where in the world is there free parking? Honestly, I can’t think of a place worth going to where I don’t pull out my wallet to pay for parking.

The truth of the matter is employees and locals hate to pay for parking. Many of them feel that they don’t make enough money to drop $10 or so every day for parking. Merchants hate to buy the expensive parking passes for their employees. Understandable. That is the truth and we all know it.

I am not saying that we don’t need to address that need with more remote parking and extended bus service. But the idea that the tourists or the day skiers are not shopping and eating because they are watching the parking clock tick insults the majority’s intelligence.

Here are some ideas that the complaining minority can work on:

1.) I support bus transportation staying on schedule till at least 3:30 a.m., so our bartenders and wait people can get home at night. I support the bus routing to be analyzed so that we are sure to keep up with the new growth areas. I support that over any discussion of another parking structure.

2) I support an increase of pickups and drop-off spots during designated time periods on the weekends that we have overflow parking on the Frontage Road.

3) How about a 24/7 “check booth” that truckers must stop at during inclement weather so that there is never again an 18-wheeler with no chains jackknifed on Vail Pass? How many years has that been a major problem, a dangerous problem and maybe the number one single reason not to come to Vail as far as a Denverite is concerned?

Let’s stop thinking that the answer to the parking issue is more parking spaces. It ain’t. The solution lies within the current bus system that already exists and using a little creativity during especially busy days.

Phil Long owns the Red Lion in Vail Village and is a longtime entertainer in Vail.


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