Parking in Vail stays free after 3 p.m.
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado – Free parking after 3 p.m. in the Vail Village parking structures is here to stay.
The Vail Town Council nixed the idea to charge $3 after 3 p.m. – an idea that came up as a way to offset the cost of increasing the duration that drivers could park for free in the daytime from 1.5 hours to two hours. The idea was proposed at the Town Council’s early September meeting, and members said they’ve heard both support and opposition from the community.
The revenue lost from making free parking available for the first two hours of winter parking is estimated to be about $115,000 – an amount the Town Council is willing to risk this winter if it means a better guest expe-rience and added sales tax revenues.
Town Council members agreed that charging a park-ing rate, even a minimal one, after 3 p.m. could create a public-relations disaster for the town. Councilwoman Susie Tjossem was the only council member who voted in favor of charging a fee after 3 p.m.
“It’s not worth the money,” Mayor Dick Cleveland said.
The town of Vail is entertaining a new parking idea proposed Tuesday night, however.
Arthur Abplanalp, an attorney who said he likes to help people solve problems and has no financial inter-est in Vail’s parking arrangements, said the town ought to implement an incentive to keep people in the parking structures later into the evenings.
The system would offer a discount for those who come early and stay late. The initial proposal is for a $10 discount for people who park before 11 a.m. and leave after 6 p.m.
Town Council members liked the idea and said it not only could encourage people to stay in Vail a little longer and likely spend more money in town but also would help Front Rangers avoid eastbound traffic along Inter-state 70 during weekend congestion.
“I think that’s a brilliant idea,” Councilwoman Mar-garet Rogers said. “People are not going to be sitting on benches from 4 to 6 p.m. – they’re going to go into the bars and restaurants, and that’s something we want to encourage.”
Dynamic year for parking
Rob De Luca, owner of Currents Fine Jewelers on Bridge Street, said the town has repeatedly alienated many people with its parking plans. He said the town needs to figure out what it’s trying to really sell – park-ing spaces, a product, repeat business or a feeling that parking is user friendly.
“This is not a good economy – perceived value is everything,” De Luca said.
Chris Jarnot, Vail Mountain’s chief operating officer, said the town’s decision to make parking free for two hours and keep free parking after 3 p.m. was a wise one. Jarnot, who was a member of Vail’s parking task force until the Town Council took over that role this year, also likes Abplanalp’s parking-incentive idea.
“It’s a new idea that we hadn’t heard that could poten-tially have a lot of promise,” Jarnot said during public comment at Tuesday night’s meeting.
Jarnot also pointed out that this year will be the most dynamic year for parking in Vail because of many fac-tors, especially the loss of construction workers who have taken up spaces in the parking structures for years. ” The biggest factor is construction traffic leaving,” Jarnot said.
Vail Public Works Director Greg Hall presented many long-term parking-plan options at a later presentation Tuesday evening, outlining everything from Ford Park parking additions to adding spaces to the charter-bus lot on the Lionshead parking structure to diagonal parking along South Frontage Road.
Some combination of the options would ultimately solve the town’s immediate 400-space public parking shortage.
“This is not an insignificant amount of work – he’s put quite an effort into this,” Zemler said.
Zemler said town staff would put together a financial plan in the com-ing weeks that would clarify how the town could fund the various options and how long each option would take. The town isn’t considering the 400 public spaces proposed at Vail Resorts’ Ever Vail development, which are currently working their way through the town’s entitlement process, as part of immediate parking solutions.
Zemler also will set up a working group to include members from both the town of Vail and Vail Resorts in order to reach an agreement on some immediate parking fixes by Aug. 31.
Jarnot said he thinks there are some great opportunities for parking improvements and that the group could certainly come up with “some short-term wins.”
Community Editor Lauren Glenden-ning can be reached at email@example.com.