Vail searches for parking solutions
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL – The town of Vail wants to solve its parking problems, and residents are waiting anxiously for the town to deliver on its promises.
Residents who responded to the town’s recent Community Survey identified parking as the highest priority the town needs to address. Comments on the survey, in which 528 people responded, showed residents want more free parking, an easier parking system to understand and more predictability over parking options.
The town’s proposed solutions so far include exploring ideas for more parking at Ford Park, an expansion of the Lionshead parking structure,
Carolyn Piper, who works at Prudential Real Estate in Vail Village, said parking prices have gone up so much in the winter that it’s unwelcoming for people who want to come to Vail for a couple of hours. She said the price shoots up to $20 so fast, and would rather see the price increases over the hours go up more gradually.
“It used to be you could get out in about three hours for about $10,” Piper said.
Piper, like many locals, thinks all the construction activity in town has caused a lot of the parking congestion. Construction on two major town projects, the Ritz-Carlton and Solaris, should finish up in the coming months, while construction at the Four Seasons is expected to last through the year.
“The parking (garages) only overflow those few weeks a year,” said Jason Rutherford, who works at the Kemo Sabe shoe store in Vail Village. “As soon as the construction clears out, it should alleviate a lot of the problem.”
Open-ended comments on the town’s Community Survey that asked whether the town was on the right or wrong track had overwhelming responses about parking as an area where the town is on the wrong track.
“Developments are too big. We need a giant parking structure – the town has its head in the sand,” read one comment.
One respondent said the town’s so-called welcome messages on the electronic signs at the main Vail exit isn’t very welcoming.
“‘Park in the garages’ is the first thing that is barked at people,” the comment read.
Dee Tobin, who works at the Golden Bear in Vail Village, said she shares a gold pass with her co-workers so they can all park in the garage. Parking at Ford Park in the winter is a terrible option for them, she said, because everyone has to dress up for work and walking such a far distance means cars and buses usually end up splashing them with snow slop.
She said building more parking at Ford Park isn’t the right answer because it’s just too far removed from the center of town. Shuttle service that runs only every 15 minutes isn’t enough, she said.
Parking hurts local businesses, Tobin said. She knows many customers that simply won’t come to Vail to shop in the winter because of the parking problems. They just shop in Edwards, she said.
“I have friends that would like to come to Vail just for lunch, too, but they won’t,” Tobin said. “It’s too bad they can’t just build another (parking garage) right next to the existing one. I don’t know what the answer is.”
Dave Nash, one of the owners of Charlie’s T-shirts in Vail Village, said the parking situation in town just isn’t worker-friendly. His employees share four parking passes between nine stores – not nearly enough.
Joe Tomasic, who gets to use the Charlie’s T-shirts parking spots as an employee, said he doesn’t know how anyone downvalley can work in Vail because of the parking expense.
He thinks one solution would be to build another structure or add to the existing structures. Whatever the town decides to do, Tomasic and Nash just hope the town or the resort pays for it.
“I would say, don’t charge for anything,” Nash said.
Tobin recognizes the town’s plight over parking. She wishes the answers were easier to find.
“It’s a difficult thing, because we just don’t have the land,” Tobin said. “We talk about it all the time (at work).”
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.