Vail Daily column: Parking problems worsen
The following is an excerpt from a report by the Vail Homeowners Association board of directors. 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.
This past winter Vail had 29 days of overflow Frontage Road parking, setting another record. This has pushed permissible Frontage Road parking to the maximum as the current agreement with the Colorado Department of Transportation, which expires in 2017, allows 30 days of Frontage Road parking during the winter. That limit was raised only a few years ago; before then only 15 days per winter season were allowed.
There is currently no agreement in place for summer overflow parking on the Frontage Roads. That, however, has not deterred the town from allowing Frontage Road parking during the summer. Last summer, for example, the town allowed 20 days of overflow parking, and already this summer, there was massive Frontage Road parking for the GoPro Mountain Games with the Fourth of July promising even more. And, with the new Vail Resorts on-mountain summer activities, the need for more parking will only grow. Community survey respondents give low marks to the convenience and safety of Frontage Road parking, while saying the town needs to provide more parking for customers and employees.
Compounding the summer Frontage Road parking congestion was an effort to allow for a multi-day supersized event (Kaaboo) of between 14,000 and 30,000 participants on Ford Park during the next 10 years. Currently, the largest event held in the park is around 2,000 participants, most held at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. While the Kaaboo proposal is now history, there are those vowing to bring similar events to town; even though economic data is showing the town, with the exception of midweek lull, is nearing full occupancy both summer and winter. If in the future the town were to approve any supersized events, the parking needs will exceed any conceivable parking capacity of the entire community.
But Vail’s parking problems exist independent of whether there are any more supersized events. Currently, there is no fee for public parking in Vail during the summer when many events are held. While the lots at Ford Park are fee based, once they are full, there is no charge for spill-over parking. The overage fills the town’s parking structures first, and then is directed onto the Frontage Roads.
Promoters are taking advantage of Vail’s free public parking. There are those who believe that event promoters should be paying a parking fee based upon the number of participants they generate. The event parking fee could be paid into a fund to build more structured public parking in the town’s commercial centers.
And then, there is the matter of public safety. Most concede that it is only a matter of time before Frontage Road parking results in a serious accident with major consequences.
The Vail Homeowners Association board is Gail Ellis, president; Judith Berkowitz, secretary; Rob Ford, treasurer; and directors Jamie Duke, John Gorsuch, John Lohre, Andres Nevares, Trygve Myhren, Larry Stewart and Doug Tansill.