Quick trips to Vail may get cheaper | VailDaily.com

Quick trips to Vail may get cheaper

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Daily file photoCars have parked on the frontage roads in Vail, Colorado fewer days than last season

VAIL, Colorado ” Running into Vail Village to run an errand or going to the library to return a book? Finding a parking spot in Vail, Colorado’s garages may get easier.

The town may add several free 30-minute parking spots to both parking garages to make it easier for shoppers and people making quick stops to get in and out of Vail.

Ten of the spots will be located on the top level of the Vail Village garage, and five will be on the ends of the Lionshead garage.

The 30-minute spots are one of several ways the town is trying to make sure parking is available for shoppers and visitors to the village. Often people shopping and eating in the village must battle with skiers for parking, and some village business owners say they want to make sure their customers can get in with ease.

A full day of parking costs $25, a $5 increase from last year. There are also 42 “shopper parking” spots on top of the village structure, which cost $15 for 2.5 hours of parking, but some residents said they don’t want to pay $15 to go eat lunch in town.

Some said they feel that locals have taken much of the burden of Vail’s parking woes. Vail resident Jim Frein said that weekend parking and the cost is so bad that it deters him from going into the village at all.

“I came into the village to shop and eat this weekend and it was completely filled. My wife and I just went down to Beaver Creek and did our shopping there,” Frein said.

Vail resident Chip Ruth said that as a local, he expects to be able to get a spot in his own town, even when Vail is flooded with visitors.

“Residents are paying a good portion of property taxes,” he said. “We’re entitled to be ensured a parking space and that it’s reasonably priced. I don’t want to be gouged.”

Vail Town Councilman Farrow Hitt said the purpose of raising prices this year was not to make money ” it was to encourage carpooling, use of the bus system, and to handle the high demand for garage spots, he said.

“We’d love to offer free parking to everyone all the time, but we just can’t. There’s too much demand,” he said.

Town officials have discussed lowering parking rates mid-week, when the garages are relatively empty. A mid-week rate might be a good way to accommodate local residents, Hitt said.

Town and Vail Resorts officials also continue looking for ways to keep cars off the Frontage Road. So far, parking has spilled onto the Frontage Road 11 days, down from 15 days at this time last year.

“It’s the weakest part of our guest experience,” said Chris Jarnot, Vail Mountain’s chief operating officer, of the Frontage Road parking. “We still get a negative reaction from guests when we’re on the Frontage Road.”

The town has increased bus service on days of spill over parking, but the situation still creates a mess that doesn’t reflect well on the town, Hitt said.

He would like to see a dedicated shuttle service that will pick up skiers parked on the Frontage Road, and suggested that Vail Resorts might help with the cost.

“Let’s look at a dedicated skier shuttle. That would be much more world-class and Vail-like,” he said.

Free skier parking available in Vail includes spots at the Safeway in West Vail, across from the Wendy’s site, at Ford Park and at Donovan Park when there aren’t events at the Pavilion.

In the long-term, the town hopes to create more parking spaces with new developments such as Ever Vail, a proposed ski village in West Lionshead. Plans are also in the works for an underground parking structure at Ford Park.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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