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Looking for places to park in Vail

Edward StonerVail, CO Colorado
NWS Busy Vail BH 2-18
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VAIL – A few weekends ago, Anne Fitz drove into Lionshead to go to the library, but couldn’t find a parking space.”I think something like that is just a real objectionable experience,” she said.She could have taken the bus from her West Vail home, she said, but people just love to drive their cars.”We don’t give a second thought to dashing thither and yon in our cars to do sort of the most mundane of tasks,” she said. “And when we go in our cars, the assumption is that we’ll have immediate gratification when it comes to parking.”When the town surveys its residents, parking is often near or at the top of the list of concerns.Parking for residents is just part of the need. Day skiers, shoppers and employees need places to park, too, said Fitz, who is on Vail’s parking committee.The proposal for the redevelopment of the Vail parking structure would have 1,749 public parking spaces – 600 more spaces than what the garage has now.The parking would be worth $56 million, according an appraisal done by the town.The increase would be a piece of the puzzle in solving Vail’s parking needs, Fitz said. Building a parking deck at Ford Park just east of the village with playing fields on top would be a good idea, too, she said.

The town is negotiating a deal to rebuild the parking structure into condos, timeshares, a conference center, two hotels, stores, restaurants and more parking.

Mayor Rod Slifer said 600 more parking spaces seems to be a “reasonable number.””But don’t ask me 20 or 30 years from now,” he said.The town says it needs about 400 more parking spaces now. By 2025, it will need about 1,000 more parking spaces because of growth in Vail, in Eagle County and on the Front Range, town officials say.A parking garage proposed for Vail Resorts’ Ever Vail project in West Lionshead would add 400 public parking spaces.The town is also considering a parking garage at Ford Park that could add about 250 spaces, said Greg Hall, director of public works.The town wants to limit the number of days that people park on the frontage road – which accommodates overflow parking – to 15. Last winter, cars were on the road for 31 days.Town officials say they are concerned that the frontage road, a busy road, can be dangerous place to for skiers and snowboarders to park and then cross the street to the mountain.

Adding another thousand parking spaces is “critical,” said Councilman Kent Logan. Convenience for residents is a big reason for that, he said.”It’s the perceived or real impression that people have that ‘It’s too much trouble to run downtown for an hour if I have to spend 20 minutes to find a parking space,'” he said. “Once we relieve that, even as an imaginary perception, I think we’ve won.”The Lionshead garage would be an important part of that, he said.”This goes a long way toward getting us there,” he said.Parking and employee housing – the developer wants to also redevelop the Timber Ridge employee housing complex – are two big problems that the Lionshead garage can address, he said.The town would receive $81.9 million in benefits with the project, but the town-owned land is worth $75 million, according to recent studies.”To me, that’s probably not enough,” Logan said.Negotiations between the town and the developer are supposed to continue for a few months.”It’s all a question of the value of what we’re receiving versus the value of what we’re giving away,” Logan said.Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.


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