Vail Daily column: Ever more frontage road parking forevermore?
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from a Vail Homeowners Association Visioning Vail Report. The association keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the Vail community. The electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at http://www.vailhomeowners.com.
If the town moves forward with acquiring locations for affordable housing outside of the town, then it will need to provide either more parking spaces in town or enhanced bus service from these new neighborhoods. Is it a wise investment for the town to build parking for commuting workers when the cost of a structured parking space can rival the cost of a new affordable housing unit? Or, would the taxpayers’ money be better spent in augmenting the existing regional and in-town bus system, so that it meets the needs of Vail’s workforce, residents and guests?
The town, by paying for major projects out of the general fund, avoids letting the voters decide priorities; this does a disservice to the community. Keeping the voters in the dark by withholding their access to the ballot box keeps citizens from evaluating the relative importance of issues that are central to the future of the entire community. If the voters are unwilling to support financing of these types of projects, then it begs the question, why does the town government persist in pursuing actions that result in higher levels of growth?
Long-term solutions to these nagging issues will need taxpayer support. The time is coming when the community’s leaders will need to go to the voters to consider both a sales tax and property tax increase.
How well public officials balance the town’s cash on-hand, with borrowing against the future through bonding, will be central to gaining the trust of the electorate and the community at large. These issues are equally important and are interlocking; one cannot be solved independently of the other.
2015 town of Vail milestones
The success of the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships aside, Vail, as a ski resort, continues its decline in the annual Ski Magazine consumer survey dropping from fifth to seventh place. The reasons for the slide are attributed to high prices, difficult access and the urbanization of the Vail experience. A researcher at the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford University speculates that snow-reliant companies could experience potential financial losses from warmer early and late winter weather conditions. Vail Resorts says its focus is upon growing its summer business, not in reaction or in anticipation to any concerns about its winter business. It is an opportunity that the company feels will be an incremental addition to its continued strong winter business.
The town’s economic diversification model is seeking ways of moving beyond incentivizing seasonal events to creating year-round venues. It is anticipating increasing medical tourism as a result of its consideration of the expansion of the Vail Valley Medical Center and potential redevelopment of the Evergreen Hotel and Municipal Center sites. It is likely that the diversification effort will be further augmented by a push toward educational tourism, through the recently announced desire to pursue the development of a lifelong educational program and facility in the Vail’s town center.
The town’s success is indicated by the growth in lodging occupancy. Predictions are being made that peak periods of full occupancy will soon occur in the summer as it already does during winter. This, at first blush, is a good thing, but cumulatively in the long-term, there could be unintended consequences if the present attitude of “growth-for–growth’s sake” remains dominant without an accompanying investment in public infrastructure.
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