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Should Vail offer parking discounts?

Richard tenBraakVail, CO, Colorado

I’m sure you’ve seen this, but the Vail Town Council moved forward with the much-discussed Vail parking plans. The short story is that the first two hours are free, up from 90 minutes. Free parking after 3 p.m. is still in place. Free after Three seemed to get a majority of the discussion time but I think a lot of people looked at it as a stand alone event, when in fact it was being considered as an offset to the extra free half hour of parking.At the same council meeting, a very good proposal was put forward by a local citizen. The idea is that Vail should consider offering a program that if you arrive early and stay late on peak days, you would get a discount. The idea would be arrive before 11 a.m. and depart after 6 p.m. and receive a $10 discount. Instead of $25 for parking, it would be $15. This incentive would have many benefits to a Front Range or a local skier up for the day. First, it would encourage people to stay in town. After skiing, they could kill a few hours by shopping or staying around for dinner, thus generating additional revenues for the local business community and increasing tax collection for the town. Creating additional tax revenues would be an offset for offering discounted parking. Second, it would encourage Front Range guests to leave a little later, thus avoiding the I-70 congestion that develops further to the east on peak travel days. Some have even suggested that by staying an extra two hours, eastbound drivers would still arrive at their destination at approximately the same time. By not waiting in a vehicle on I-70, one could enjoy all that extra time in Vail, creating a better experience and higher desire to return. The third, and probably the most convincing reason is the positive public relations it can generate. As everyone knows, parking has been a big issue with a lot of locals and Front Range guests. Even those with the financial means avoid parking just on principle. Now there is a negative (paid parking) that can be turned into a positive (stay longer and pay less). From the Vail Chamber & Business Associations’ standpoint this could be a big win-win win for the town, the local business community and, most important, our guests. While this is not a done deal, town staff is working on the logistics and what the financial implication could be. The Vail Chamber will be advocating for this “stay longer/ pay less” idea. Please, let us know your thoughts and concerns.The council also gave staff the direction to move forward with bond funding for Lionshead tax increment financing for up to $15 million. The projects that potentially could be included are: the Lionshead Transit and Welcome Center for $7.8 million; East Lionshead Portal Improvements for $3.6 million; West Lionshead portal / Concert Hall Plaza for $750,000; Vail Library remodel for $1.8 million; Charter Bus Lot surface parking for $900,000. Dobson Arena was not included in the program, but is being considered as a possible option for the conference center funds..While these Lionshead projects are being considered, they have not been approved yet. The intent is to get bond funding in place before the possible passage of Colorado Amendment 61 in this November. The town estimates that it could bond up to about $20 million plus for the Lionshead district. If Amendment 61 were to pass, after November the total amount the town could bond for would be greatly reduced to around $8 million. Now is the time to weigh in on what you think should be the priorities, how much could potentially be spent and when it should happen. The Vail Chamber & Business Association is the leading business advocacy group in Vail and is a communications outlet for businesses that want to have a voice in community affairs. If you are interested in finding out more about the Vail Chamber and what it has to offer, please contact us at 970-477-0075 or email info@vailchamber.org. Based in Vail Village, our office is located in the transportation center and our doors are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Stop by and say hello!Richard tenBraak is Executive Director of the Vail Chamber & Business Association.


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