Vail Valley Voices: Fix housing, parking
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado –I was walking around Vail Village and Lionshead yesterday, and the fountains and other water features were as empty as the streets. That and the weather mean that winter is approaching quickly, and that brings up a myriad of issues. Some of those include parking, housing and the gen-eral welfare of this town.
The first thing that I have issue with is the state of parking in this town. It has gotten out of control, as many people have noticed. The frontage roads are packed every weekend or powder day, but it doesn’t stop there.
The “guests” to the val-ley have gotten quite cre-ative in their pursuit of free and uncrowded spots. I live at the end of the East Vail bus line, and people have realized that the end of Bighorn Road is plowed and kept up by the town of Vail. On a daily basis, there are cars in that spot. The major-ity of those cars are people from the neighborhood going for a walk with their dogs or maybe just going for a snowshoe. But every powder day, those spots are full of cars, and when I catch the bus in the morning, the stop is full of people with their gear in hand. Some of them even proudly dis-playing their Epic Pass. The reason why this is such a point of contention is that I have been left standing there many times when the buses are full, and sometimes this causes me to be late for work. There were times when I had to catch a bus up to an hour early just to make sure that I can get to work on time, although that is not the end of the world. It is not the way that it has to be, and I have heard it is the same sce-nario in West Vail, as well.
Another issue with parking is the frontage road. The people that have to use the frontage road are putting themselves in a lot of undue jeopardy. They are often times sitting in their car, door open putting their boots on, or putting their gear on in the street. And, frankly, I am surprised there has-n’t been an accident on the frontage road because of this.
This year is an election year for the Town Council and, frankly, I hope that someone has some ideas for the miti-gation of this issue. I hope in the future, instead of tearing down park-ing structures in the valley, rebuilding them and adding hotels, we would tear down a structure, rebuild it and add additional parking spots.
Or, I would like to see someone propose some idea for outlying parking. There has to be somewhere in the valley that can accommodate bus-accessed outlying parking. I admittedly do not know enough about town- owned land to know where that spot would be and don’t know what zoning regulations would need to be in place for this to happen. I would even be in favor of this hap-pening in my “backyard” if there were more buses during peak times to make it happen.
The issue of beds for workers in the valley comes up every time a large development happens. The issue came up when the Arrabelle development happened, and I do believe the resort company is trying to work this issue out. It just seems like every time afford-able housing comes up, it is always deed-restricted and lottery-based.
Why can we not just build rental housing somewhere in the valley that is just set up for six-month or year leases. This housing could accommo-date construction workers for the many projects in the valley, and it could also accommodate seasonal workers for not only the resort but also for various retail shops in the valley. This money would ultimately come from the taxpayers, and I think that this would be the largest stumbling block for a project like that.
I can’t figure out why, if and when Timber Ridge gets torn down, it can’t be rebuilt as mostly pure rental prop-erties. I know that the argument is that with rental properties people don’t feel the responsibilities that they do with ownership and maybe the rentals won’t get taken care of well, but we might have to take that risk to alleviate the issue. If the rentals are run well, and we could just put a little faith in basic human decency, it could work. I lived in Timber Ridge my first year in the valley and had a good time there, and some of my fondest memories from my first year were from that situ-ation of living with other people in the same boat. Finding a rental in this town that fits your needs and your budget is hard.
That brings me to the issue of the upcoming election in the valley for Town Council. I am just one humble registered voter, but these are some of the issues that I would like to finally see resolved and fought for. We don’t need expensive manhole covers that advertise for our town (seven of which that I know of are stamped with the wrong elevation). I guess hindsight is just 20-20, but I don’t have time to go to every meeting in which these deci-sions take place. Which is why we have to have faith in our public offi-cials to make the right decisions, and I feel that the waste of that money was a breach of that trust. I am very interest-ed in the next election; we seem to have more candidates to choose from. This paper has been very fair in the past about allowing everyone to be heard, and I know that they will con-tinue to be in the future. So I am look-ing forward to hearing everyone’s plat-forms being stated in the upcoming time before the election. When I vote, I would like to know that the person I vote for is representing the opinion of its constituents as well as their own.
Rick Bell is a Vail resident.