Vail parking system can read your plates |

Vail parking system can read your plates

A vehicle exits the Vail Village parking structure and passes a "no looping" sign Friday. Equipment has been ordered to read vehicle license plates as they enter the Lionshead and Village parking structures.That reader will be tied to a computer system used at all the town’s paid parking lots. With plate numbers in the database, vehicles will be prohibited from re-entering either structure for at least 30 minutes.
Anthony Thornton | |

A busy Tuesday

The Vail Town Council will talk about the winter parking program at its Oct. 7 meeting, set for 6 p.m. at Vail Town Hall.

In addition, the council will review a recommendation to move forward with the plan for the clubhouse remodeling project at the Vail Golf Club.

The council will also take a look at three options for the possible redevelopment of the town’s municipal site.

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VAIL — A lot of Vail’s winter employees have a well-oiled system — every hour or so, they’ll zip off to either the Vail or Lionshead parking structure, jump in the car and get through the parking plaza before their free parking expires. That practice, called “looping,” could well stop this season.

The Vail Town Council on Tuesday will take a look at the parking plan for the coming season. Parking fees won’t change, but equipment has been ordered that will read vehicle license plates as they enter the structures. That reader will be tied into a computer system used at all the town’s paid-parking lots.

With plate numbers in the database, vehicles will be prohibited from re-entering either structure for at least 30 minutes.

Mike Rose, who manages the town’s parking structures, said the plate readers will help keep more parking spaces open during busy times and will help generate a bit more revenue.

That’s going to annoy some people. It might also annoy some people who try to game the parking system on a longer-term basis, too.

Cutting Down Abuses

Some people have been known to park for a few days at the structures — something that should cost $25 per day. The driver of the parked car will sometimes catch a ride with someone else. That person will provide a ticket for the parked-for-days car, then pay the $25 fee for a lost parking ticket. The plate reader won’t let that happen, Rose said.

While the plate readers can help cut down abuses, Rose said the devices will have some advantages for those who use the structures. For instance, the system will allow the town to charge those who have legitimately lost their parking tickets to pay for just the time they’ve parked.

The system can also be programmed to recognize plate numbers of cars police are looking for. The new technology will be in place by the time the structures switch back to paid parking in November.

While people who use the structures — which is a lot of us — will be affected by changes to the parking system, the Town Council will tackle a couple of long-running, town-specific topics Tuesday.

Other Agenda Items

The council will look at a recommendation to move ahead with a plan to remodel the clubhouse at the Vail Golf Club. That project has been delayed by lawsuits filed by golf course neighbors. Those suits, initially dismissed in district court in Eagle, have been appealed to the Colorado Court of Appeals.

During the delay, the cost of the project has risen significantly. The original budget — about $7 million — was approved by the council in 2012 after town voters in 2011 approved a ballot measure to spend money originally intended to build a conference center in town. Council members will be asked to approve spending an additional $3.9 to the project’s budget.

The current plan calls for construction on the clubhouse to begin in September of 2015, and the work should take 10 to 12 months.

Out with the Old

The council Tuesday will also start another chapter in the long-running saga of replacing the 1970s-vintage buildings at the town’s municipal complex, which now holds the police department and other town offices.

That work began in 2011, when the town, Vail Valley Medical Center, the Steadman Clinic and the Steadman Philippon Research Institute planned to replace the existing buildings with a medical office building, a parking structure and re-build the western portion of the current Town Hall building.

That deal was well underway in 2012, but fell apart when the Steadman organizations decided not to move ahead.

Earlier this year, the town and the medical center talked about using the western portion of the municipal campus for a parking structure for the medical center. That was initially part of the medical center’s long-term plan to rebuild and renovate much of the property on its 4-acre site just to the south of the town’s South Frontage Road. The medical center in the summer decided against moving forward with that plan.

Council members Tuesday will get their first look at three possible options for the municipal complex:

• Build a parking structure of about 160 spaces.

• Build a parking structure and build a new municipal building similar to the one designed in 2012.

• Build a parking structure, and build a municipal office building on top of it.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m., with an estimated adjournment of about 9 p.m.

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