New winter parking plan on tap for Vail |

New winter parking plan on tap for Vail

Geraldine Haldner

In a split vote, 4-3, the council opted against picking and piecing together a second plan in a last-minute attempt to please all of the parking public.”The reality is that somebody has to pay for these services we provide,” said councilwoman Diana Donovan, who by her own description “disagrees with everything” but applauded the parking task force’s “creativity” in coming up with a winter plan that promises to:- Minimize overflow parking on the Frontage Road.- Maximize parking revenues by $380,000.- Make Vail a welcoming place to locals and out-of-town guests.To achieve this ambitious goal, several local favorites – including Free After 3 and 90-minute free parking – will go away.”This is going to cost us more,” Donovan said, referring to her own family’s use of the parking structures during the ski season. “But a dollar for an hour and a half is a good deal, especially in Vail, Colorado.”Donovan, along with councilmen Dick Cleveland, Bill Jewitt and Vail Mayor Ludwig Kurz, voted for the plan. Councilmen Rod Slifer, Greg Moffet opposed it after picking it apart.”I would really like to adopt this as it is,” Donovan said, agreeing with Vail Town Manager Bob McLaurin’s earlier comment that changing one piece of the puzzle would undermine others.McLaurin said the overall strategy is to drive short-term motorists to newly-metered parking spots while paying guests use the structured parking on weekends. Locals, meanwhile, are encouraged to take the bus or use outlying lots in return for new parking-pass deals and ski-pass discounts.Donovan said paid parking will never be popular nor will it please everyone.”We have to keep the balance. I hate to pay for parking, but this is reasonable in the scheme of things,” she said.Bill Jensen, chief operating officer of Vail Mountain and a parking task force member, lobbied for the plan.”From the surveys we have done, we know that a lot of those parking (on the Frontage Road) are destination skiers. I think a parking spot in the structure is a better option for them and they are willing to pay for it,” he said.Mike Rose, Vail’s transportation supervisor, said a fair number local employees are abusing the 90-minute free parking period.”We see them beating the clock. They are coming out every hour and a half, driving out, driving back in and going back to work.”McLaurin, meanwhile, said “the worst-kept secret in Vail” is costing the town an estimated $900,000 in lost revenues when combined with the all-popular Free After 3 parking plan, which, following Tuesday’s approval, will be replaced with Arrive After 5.Opponents of the parking plan said it may turn people away from Vail, which is already battling a negative perception when it comes to parking – and not enough of it.”When I ran for council three years ago, my platform was free parking – I chose not to be on the parking task force,” said councilman Chuck Ogilby. “I’m obviously in the minority here.”Ogilby said the incentive program for locals ignores the fact that a guest from Edwards “is just as valuable a guest as someone coming from New York City.”Councilman Rod Slifer said he disliked Arrive After 5 and wanted to keep Free After 3 – along with 90-minute free parking – even if the new plan projects $380,000 in new parking revenues – on top of a season’s average of $2.2 million.”I think people got used to (Free After 3) and we are just pulling it out from under the hopeful shopper,” Slifer said. “I don’t think an hour and a half is enough to park your car, eat lunch and come back.”Councilman Greg Moffet said the plan was too focused on driving up revenues instead of solving Vail’s parking problems once and for all.”I’m inclined to push free parking to an hour. Just getting kids in and out of car seats takes 5 to 10 minutes,” he said.Jensen said the task force, while looking at ways to enhance revenues, focused foremost on cutting Frontage Road overflow parking from 42 days last ski season to 15 or less this winter.He said the task force’s research of past parking data shows the town needs to free up 375 additional parking spaces on weekends to prevent cars from spilling out onto the street.Without the plan, he said “we won’t find those 375 parking spaces.”The new plan, scheduled to take effect Thanksgiving weekend, will cost $325,000 to implement, most of it for new gates and meters.The council is scheduled to consider a validation program for Dobson users Sept. 10.Vail Winter Parking Plan for 2002/03:The following is a list of free and paid parking options as approved Tuesday. The plan will take effect Thanksgiving weekend.Free Parking Serviced by Free Town Shuttle (approximately 400 spaces, bus frequency 15 minutes to 1 hour depending on time of the day)- North Frontage Road in West Vail (unlimited)- Red Sandstone Park (unlimited)- Stephens Park (unlimited)- East Vail Interchange Trailhead (unlimited)- Spraddle Creek Trailhead (unlimited)- North Trail Trailhead (unlimited)- Red Sandstone School (Sat./Sun.)- Vail Mountain School (Sat./Sun.)- Eagle River Water & Sanitation District Offices on South Frontage Road (Sat./Sun.)Free parking at Vail Village and Lionshead parking structures- Free parking for 30 minutes at the two parking structures (formerly 90 minutes)- Free enclosed parking after 5 p.m. (formerly after 3 p.m.)- New validation program for Vail Library users (may be expanded to Dobson Ice Arena users)ECO (Eagle County Transportation Authority) Park “n Ride options (Berry Creek, Edwards; Meadow Mountain, Minturn; Wolcott Interstate 70 Interchange; Chambers Ave., Eagle; Eagle Valley High School, Gypsum)- A total of 324 spaces will be available and serviced by ECO buses to Vail (travel time from 63 to 20 minutes). Vail-based employees parking at Berry Creek will receive a yet to be determined discount toward a merchant ski pass.Paid parking (2,500 enclosed spaces at Vail Village and Lionshead parking structures and 355 uncovered spaces at Ford Park, Donovan Park and Soccer Field)- Rates: Paid parking will move away from two-tiered weekday/weekend approach of years’ past. Instead the recommendation is to implement a uniform rate structure for both structures, starting at $1 for one hour (first 30 minutes free, down from 90 minutes free). The rates would increase with each hour by $2 and top out at $13 for all day parking. Last year’s top rate was $12.- New Short-term Shoppers’ Parking: 40 spaces at the Vail Village structure as well as 17 spaces at Lionshead will be set aside for pre-paid, metered parking. Rates would go from $3 for three hours to $20 for three to 24 hours. The meters will accept credit cards and violators will be fined the maximum rate plus a $26 fine.- Parking Passes: Will increase from three options to five.The unlimited Gold Parking Pass, good for enclosed parking at any time and available to anyone will increase from $1,500 to $1,750.The Blue Parking Pass will cost $200 more at $750, and allow unlimited parking in Lionshead as well as weekday and after 3 p.m. parking on weekends in the village structure. The pass will be available only to Vail employees, residents and property owners.A new Green Parking Pass available for $450 and available only to Vail-based employees, allows weekday and after 3 p.m. weekend parking in both parking structures, as well as weekend parking at Ford Park, the soccer field and Donovan Park. Each pass purchaser will receive a $200 discount of a merchant ski pass, courtesy of Vail Resorts.A Vail Village and separate Lionshead Debit Card (formerly known as the Value Card) can be purchased by Vail residents, employees and property owners for $5 per day parking on weekdays and $10 day parking for weekends. Eagle County residents can purchase the same pre-paid card for $6 per weekday and $12 for Friday through Sunday parking.- New “Gated” Permit Parking for Employees available to holders ofthe Employee Parking Pass is available to Vail-based employees for $50 and enables unlimited around-the-clock parking with gated access to Vail-based employees only. All three lots will be serviced by shuttles running at 15 to 30 minute intervals.Geraldine Haldner covers Vail, Minturn and Red Cliff. She can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 602, or at

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