Vail wants prettier Lionshead garage entrance
VAIL — The town of Vail is trying to make the Lionshead parking structure as beautiful as a parking structure can possibly be.
The council gave direction to town staff on Tuesday night to continue the planning and design of a new entryway to the structure, which would extend the number of enter and exit lanes from five to six — three lanes in and three lanes out — as well as reduce the number of booths to two, widen the final ramp on the top level to two lanes, and include snowmelt systems in a few locations.
Also on the table is a new exit point on the lower level on the eastern side of the structure, an improvement designed to help facilitate egress, said Pedro Campos, a land planner with Zehren and Associates.
The roughly $2 million project would be paid through the town’s Tax Increment Financing fund. The town had originally budgeted $1.2 million for the project.
Town Engineer Tom Kassmel said the town could remove the canopy entrance structure from the design to keep the project within that original budget, but council members mostly agreed on Tuesday that the structure is an important aesthetic piece of the project.
Mayor Andy Daly, however, wasn’t supportive of the project at all. He was disappointed to learn that the parking garage technology wouldn’t be much better than it is today with the new design.
“I don’t agree with the project,” Daly said. “I think we’re spending too much money and not embracing that latest technology.”
The town’s stated goal for the project is to “improve the operational efficiency, safety, guest experience and aesthetics of the Lionshead Parking Structure Entry.”
Public Works Director Greg Hall said the town’s regulations actually limit which technology can be used in the garages. Because of the first two hours of free parking, and the free parking after 3 p.m. policies, Hall said the town has to use a parking ticket system rather than self pay-and-display or license plate reader systems.
“If our policies changed, you do open up to other technology,” Hall said.
With other improvements over recent years to the structure, including a new bus station on the north side, improved skier drop-off on the west side and a new welcome and information center on the south side, the council members agreed the eastern portion is the final piece of the puzzle.
“Frankly, this is the last loop on the renovation of the structure and (the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships) is coming, and we want to put the best face forward we possibly can,” Councilwoman Margaret Rogers said. “It’s very unappealing now. I think this is a project whose time has come.”
The council hasn’t approved anything yet other than for staff to continue working on the project. Kassmel said the goal is to continue the designing to narrow everything down in time for the town’s October budgeting process. Then, if approved, construction would begin next spring in order to finish the project in time for the 2014-15 ski season.
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at email@example.com or 970-748-2983.