Vail Daily column: Nagging parking problem
Editor’s note: The following is a report from the Vail Homeowners Association. 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
Related to congestion are the town’s chronic off-street public parking problems. There is insufficient parking in Vail for peak days, by as many as 1,000 spaces, and Vail lacks a comprehensive parking strategy to deal with the issue.
In recent years, the town has sought to at least partially shift responsibility for building more public parking onto private developers whenever new projects are constructed. Some private developers, such as the Solaris, see profitability in public parking; others do not. Some of the new residential hotels offer valet parking to day-skiers and visitors who patronize their facilities. But this is a tail-chasing-the-dog solution as new development brings more traffic and more parking demand. Whether private developers can ever fill the gap is very questionable. This also creates an inevitable conflict of interest with the town of Vail’s own business activities, since the town, in part, relies on parking revenue to balance its budget.
In an effort to deal with the parking problems, the town has designated areas of free parking on the North Frontage Road and major paved segments of the South Frontage Road shoulders. The result has been increasing use of the Frontage Roads as a primary parking venue. But adding and improving Frontage Road on-street public parking doesn’t result in an improved guest experience. To the contrary, some see it as a hazard to public safety and a visual eyesore.
Some see the proposed development of Ever Vail as at least a partial solution since Vail Resorts has planned nearly 1,200 parking spaces to be included in the project, with many of those spaces to be available for public parking. However, negotiations on the development are currently stalled because of Vail Resorts’ position that, because these are facilities that service the public, the town should rebate to Vail Resorts the tax revenues gained from the development to pay for the cost of constructing these facilities. Moreover, the economy has put the project on the back burner and it is now many years away, so it is questionable whether Ever Vail should be considered as a near-term solution.
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Recently, the redevelopment of the town municipal site has been revived, after last collapsing in 2012. Included in those plans is a 160 to 325 space parking garage. Whether this project will become a reality is not clear. Even if approved, it is still several years away and will not solve the overall problem. These are chronic issues for Vail, issues that Vail Homeowners Association has continued to follow, and provide guidance on to the Town Council.
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