Vail Daily column: Summer paid parking in Vail?
May 28, 2017
To charge or not to charge for summer parking: The Vail Town Council established a Parking Task Force to examine this issue, including how much to charge ($5, $10, $15), who it would affect, whether it would affect businesses both on the income side and the ability to maintain employees, impacts of increased bus service (to encourage locals to change their habits and take the bus to and from work) and lessening the number of days the parking structures overflow onto the Frontage Road.
Pull a Ticket
My understanding is that this summer, beginning Memorial Day, every vehicle entering the structures will have to pull a ticket and give the ticket back when exiting. The town will be trying to get information on who is parking in the structures. Is it employees, construction workers, day visitors, overnight visitors, weekly visitors or monthly visitors?
Is it people coming into the structures once a day or is it multiple times a day? This information will be used in the decision-making process and will be an important factor in the decision to charge or not.
Speaking a little more close to home, as a business owner with 50-plus employees, it impacts many businesses. Some of my 50-plus live in Vail and take the free bus. But most do not live in Vail.
The enhanced free bus is good for some, not the majority. ECO Transit is a partial solution for some employees from out of Vail, but schedules and length of routes and ride time make it not the most ideal option for workers who commute to work.
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To charge $5 per day for summer parking would equal $25 per week (June to October) for 22 weeks, which amounts to $550. Compare that to the winter "pink pass" for $150 at Ford Park (almost exactly $1 per day). I believe some sort of summer parking pass is appropriate.
The challenge is where to park. Ford Park is used every day by tennis players, softball players and guests to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, as well as the number of events at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater.
The golf course parking is quite full daily with golfers and diners at the new grill restaurant. Those two locations would not work. Where would a pass-holder park? It is my understanding that some members on the task force feel we cannot do paid summer parking without solving the employee issue. I totally agree with that.
I understand the focus of paid parking: getting cars off of the frontage roads. I am wondering if it will really accomplish that. The ability to build a parking structure at Red Sandstone Elementary School is terrific. That area could become parking for summer pink pass holders. Parking on North Frontage Road across from Safeway in West Vail will certainly be used.
Are there any other frontage road parking areas near free bus pick-ups? Is there logic to setting up employee vouchers that cost a certain amount, same as a pink pass?
My last thoughts that are generated by the issue of paid summer parking are about the parking structures. Are we close (15 to 20 years) to needing to tear them down and rebuild them?
Is it possible to build them larger? Can they be made larger? Besides Red Sandstone, is there another location somewhere? How many years from now will the town of Vail need the money for that? Is it a bond issue or do we increase sales tax by 0.1 percent (or whatever the math works out to) similar to the convention center tax?
What are your thoughts?
From what I understand, the sales tax method probably might not provide enough money, unless we start now. Summer paid parking would not add funds to help build a structure because the parking structures are revenue neutral. This is an interesting town issue.
If this issue affects you and your business, then start paying attention and contact your local town council members. Or reach out to us at the Vail Chamber and Business Association, and we will alert you to important meetings and ways to be involved and stay informed.
Michael Staughton is the owner of Slope Enterprises, which includes Los Amigos and Russell's restaurants on Bridge Street. He is a member of the Vail Chamber and Business Association board. The Vail Chamber and Business Association is a business advocacy group in Vail and a communications outlet for businesses that want to have a voice in community affairs. For more information, call 970-477-0075 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.