Task force moves little on approved parking plan
Vail Town Council members approved by a 4-3 vote Tuesday a revised version of the parking plan, throwing in one major revision against the Vail Parking Task Force’s recommendation.Council members Greg Moffet, Rod Slifer and Chuck Ogilby, in a repeat performance voted against the plan, saying it is too revenue-driven, confusing and inconsistent and threatens Vail’s competitive edge with free parking in downvalley communities.The revisions are minor and center on expanding the free initial parking period from 30 minutes to 60 minutes – still 30 minutes less than in past years.In response to merchants’ complaints about the stringent limitations of the new parking plan, the task force had assembled one more time in late September after the council approved an initial version of the plan in August.Council members Diana Donovan, Bill Jewitt, Dick Cleveland and Ludwig Kurz have come out in support of the plan.Because of the expanded free first hour of parking, the task force suggested that the hourly rates start at $2 for the second hour, $5 for three hours of parking and another $2 for each additional hour of parking. After six hours, the clock stops ticking at $13 for all-day parking.Unlike last year’s plan, this year’s version does not distinguish between weekdays and weekends, and applies the same rate structure to the Lionshead and Vail Village parking structures.Free After 3, despite being popular with Vail merchants, did not get a second chance.Vail Public Works Director Greg Hall, who served on the task force, said the free parking option combined with the 90-minute free parking period has been abused by employees.According to town parking statistics, as much as $250,000 is lost per season, because employees move their cars every 90 minutes until 3 p.m.”It stinks,” said Slifer of the end of Free After 3. “We are making parking less attractive and more expensive.”Kaye Ferry, owner of the Daily Grind and president of the Vail Business & Chamber Association, agreed, saying that Arrive After 5 – the town’s new free option for covered parking – means and end to people running quick errands in Vail.While the merchants won’t get everything they had asked for, young hockey players and ice skaters had more luck Tuesday.Laurie Kleisinger, of the Vail Junior Hockey Club, reacted with surprise and amazement after her last-minute plea resulted in an amendment to the plan to add a free voucher program for teen-aged participants in Dobson ice programs.Donovan asked town staff to work on a change to the plan and bring it back in two weeks.”I’m really pleased and grateful to the town,” she said after the vote.Kleisinger, along with Shawn Boris of the Skating Club of Vail, had asked council members to consider a voucher system for Dobson, similar to the free 90-minute parking provision for Vail Library users.”I would hate to be a librarian this winter,” Kleisinger told the council. “I think you are going to put a lot of thing on their shoulders to be a policeman,” she said.”Smelly hockey players will be going over there to get their tickets validated,” Boris said, adding that $2 doesn’t seem like much, but adds up for children who play four times a week. Increased competition with downvalley ice rinks coming online this winter, will make parking fees more of a deciding factor, Boris said. “We may just be sending people down to Eagle,” she said.Moffet, who has criticized the plan for being too revenue-driven and not sensitive enough to local workers and visitors, encouraged ice users to make the short walk across the street to the library “and scam the system.”Donovan offered the Dobson amendment, instructing the task force to keep a close eye on the parking numbers, because “we get two bucks out of these people, but we may lose 200 people.”The task force is scheduled to meet again Jan. 15, 2003 to review the success of the plan.Vail businessman Ron Riley told the council that it is important to sell the positive aspects of the plan to locals and visitors as well”If they know that the clock stops running after six hours they might stay and enjoy themselves,” he said of someone who parks at 9 a.m. and pays $13 and doesn’t accrue any more hourly fees after 3 p.m.”I think that story has to be told far and wide,” he said.But selling yet another new plan, Slifer said is difficult.”I think the parking plan should be simple and easy to understand,” he said holding up the matrix, featuring the many restrictions and free parking options of the five parking passes and the straight cash rates. “How can people be informed if they don’t get it?” he asked.Vail Town Manager Bob Mclaurin defended the plan saying it would be simple if it had only one objective.The main goal of the parking plan, according to the parking task force members, is to reduce overflow parking from 42 days last ski season to no more than 15 this ski season. Overflow parking on North Frontage Road is allowed once the 2,500 spaces in the Vail Village and Lionshead parking structures fill up, mostly on busy winter weekends.Metered short-term parking would attract shoppers and keep spaces reserved for them, while the five parking pass options for locals would open up covered parking spaces for paying visitors on the weekends, allowing local parking during slow weekdays.According to the task force’s estimate, the town stands to collect an additional $380,000 in parking fees on top of the $2.2 million the town collects per paid parking season.Robert Aikens, of Verbatim, a bookstore in Lionshead, thinks the plan will do more harm than good.”If they are so concerned about employees parking after 3 (p.m.) they need to remember that those are the people that serve everyone. I don’t think people would move their cars in the middle of the winter every 90 minutes when it’s freezing outside and they have to change into boots, just for the fun of it,” he said. Taking the bus from Ford Park and other satellite parking lots is inconvenient, he said, and only makes people think twice about working in Vail.”I guess we’ll see what happens. If business keeps moving downvalley, too, no one should act surprised,” Aikens said, issuing one of the earliest challenge to the four Vail council members; Kurz, Moffet, Slifer and Ogilby who will be up for re-election next fall.”If this plan doesn’t work, maybe it is time for a real change,” he said.Geraldine Haldner covers Vail, Minturn and Red Cliff. She can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 602, or at email@example.comVail Winter Parking Plan Highlights:(The following is a partial list of paid- and free-parking options as approved Tuesday by the Vail Town Council )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 plan implements a uniform rate structure for both structures, starting at $2 (first 60 minutes free). The rates would increase with each hour by $3, then $2, and top out at $13 for all-day parking.- New Short-term Shoppers’ Parking: 40 spaces at the Village structure as well as 17 spaces at Lionshead will be set aside for pre-paid, metered parking for up to 3 hours. Rates are $1 per hour. 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 only to Vail 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 on a Vail Resorts merchant ski pass.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 all-day parking on weekdays and $10 all-day parking on 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 (Pink Pass) is available to Vail-based employees for $50. Allows for unlimited around-the-clock parking at Ford Park, the soccer field and Donovan Park. All three lots will be serviced by shuttles running at 15 to 30 minute intervals.Free parking at Vail Village and Lionshead parking structures- Free parking for first hour at both parking structures- Free enclosed parking after 5 p.m.- Free 90 minute parking for Vail Library users and Dobson Ice Arena youth ice program participantsECO (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 and purchasing a specific season bus pass for $200 will receive a $200 discount toward a merchant ski pass.