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Parking problems

Matt Zalaznick
Dominique TaylorThe first signs of fall are revealed in a solitary branch of yellow leaves on an aspen tree above Gilman along Highway 24.
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Vail – Vail the town, and Vail the resort company, continue to butt heads over parking.

They’re battling over two massive developments ” the $1 billion-dollar Ever Vail and the $900 million Lionshead parking garage renovation plan.

Last week, the town approved a developer’s plan to build more parking spaces, luxury hotels, shops and condominiums on the land where the garage is now. But Vail Resorts, which must approve any changes to the garage because it donated the land to the town, says it’s not ready to give the OK.

The ski company is worried it will lose too many parking spaces while the garage is being renovated even though the developer says parking will be maintained during construction.

Vail Resorts says it will not approve the renovation until it builds its Ever Vail project, which includes lots of parking along with shops and a gondola, in west Lionshead.

The town struck back late last week, threatening not to approve the Ever Vail project unless Vail Resorts lets the garage renovation progress.

Vail Resorts, apparently, has the next move.

Eagle County – More than 2,100 acres of open space and hiking terrain between Edwards and Eagle-Vail could be permanently protected from future development through a complex multi-agency land swap announced Friday.

Land owned by Avon, Eagle County, the U.S. Forest Service and the State Land Board are likely to change hand under an about-to-be finalized deal announced last week.

“This land we’ve been enjoying since we’ve been here will remain open, we’ll continue to enjoy it, and our children and grandchildren can enjoy it,” said New New Wallace, development and marketing director for the Eagle Valley Land Trust.

Here’s how the complex swap would work: Two parcels now owned by the State Land Board will go to the Forest Service. These include a 640-acre area on the eastern flank of the Lake Creek Valley, and a 640-acre area on the north side of Interstate 70 on the hillside above the Shaw Cancer Center. By giving the land by Lake Creek to the Forest Service, another 160-acre parcel in the area owned by the Forest Service would be connected to the rest of the forest, and would no longer be a candidate for sale by the federal government.

Two properties now owned by the Forest Service would go to Avon. The first is a 470-acre area between Wildridge and Singletree, which has been a target for development for a decade. The other is an 80-acre area on the north side of the Eagle River across from Eagle-Vail. Conservation easements held by the Eagle Valley Land Trust will ensure this land remains open space.

A 150-acre parcel owned by the Forest Service on the west flank of Lake Creek will be given to Eagle County. This area will be protected by a conservation easement held by the land trust.

A 40-acre parcel by Eagle-Vail owned by the Forest Service will be given to the State Land Board. This area will be adjacent to another 640-acre parcel owned by the land board in Eagle-Vail, and both could be “upzoned” by the county so they could be developed.

Thanks to a sluggish economy, Eagle County’s only major car dealership will close Sept. 15.

Jeff Carlson, president of Castle Peak Automotive in Gypsum, said a weakening market for cars drove the decision to shut down the dealership.

Don Cohen, executive director of the Eagle County Economic Council, said it was regrettable but not surprising that Castle Peak Automotive found it difficult to do business in Eagle County. He noted that traditionally, car dealerships are clustered in communities, pointing to Glenwood Springs as an example.

“It’s not surprising we would lose our single car dealership, having never achieved critical mass for that business to work,” said Cohen.

“I’m sorry when any business finds the economics don’t work in Eagle County ” but we have unique economics here.”

The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office is understaffed but also could be more efficient, a study says.

The county jail, which is run by the Sheriff’s Office, needs seven more employees, according to the study, which was done by Lafayette-based Voorhis.

The county is working on a plan to expand the Eagle County Justice Center, which includes the jail.

The justice center expansion will add 35,000 square feet to the Sheriff’s Office, courts and district attorney’s offices, as well as 32 to 36 more beds in the jail.

The study began in April after the county commissioners raised questions over the Sheriff’s Office’s budget ” too much was being spent on overtime pay, they said.

However, the study did not directly address the overtime issue. The consultant did say that the current sheriff’s schedule is already very efficient.

Sheriff Joe Hoy said his department is already trying to cut down on overtime by training during regular hours and using flex time, where officers who work overtime can take the time off later in the pay period.

A nationwide shortage of visas for guest workers may lead to fewer bus trips in Vail this winter.

The first service to be cut will be in the evening, said Mike Rose, of Vail Transit.

East and West Vail service could be reduced from every 15 minutes to every hour, Rose said.

One Vail Transit employee was in Mesa Verde National Park last week looking for more workers. Drivers at those parks have the certification needed to drive buses in Vail, Rose said.

“I don’t think we’ll be able to provide the same level of service as we have in previous winters,” said Kevin Foley, a Vail councilman.


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