Vail Daily column: Peak days are getting busier
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association Newsletter. 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.
Vail has made a remarkable recovery from the 2007-08 recession. Town sales tax receipts have shown positive monthly gains for most of the past two years. The increase in sales tax revenues have offset, in large measure, a decrease of revenues generated by property and real estate taxes as the real estate market still struggles to get back to pre-recession levels.
Vail’s sales tax receipts are tied directly to tourism. A significant growth in tourism was key to Vail’s quick recovery. The surge in tourism is being propelled through mass marketing a highly coordinated branded image via social media. A wide spectrum of mass media techniques have been used to attract and hold the attention of an expanding array of multi-national and generational consumers. The approach has been successful in attracting the day visitor and to a lesser extent the destination market.
The town’s economic consultants now say that during prime tourism weekends for either summer or winter, lodging and hotel properties are increasingly becoming fully booked, something that is a first for Vail. Town officials are now promoting strategies to infill the early and middle of weeks as well as looking to increasing group business to grow offseason bookings. But this strategy of increasing the volume of visitors in all seasons, by all means, has consequences.
Providing for this new abundance of consumers is causing the community’s infrastructure, particularly parking, to become a much larger, urgent and more expensive challenge. The community relies upon centrally located parking structures and a town/countywide bus system to efficiently organize and distribute visitors.
Centralized parking structures free the public streets for pedestrians, reducing public safety hazards and the visual intrusiveness of the automobile. With thousands of automobiles concealed in structures, residents and visitors alike get to enjoy a unique car-free commercial and residential environment. This has been at the foundation of Vail’s lifestyle and economic success since the 1970s.
But with peak days increasing in both the winter and summer seasons, more and more parking is spilling over onto the frontage roads creating public safety issues and urban blight. This is especially true for outdoor events where there is no requirement that the promoter provide any public parking. For several years, traffic experts have consistently put Vail’s parking shortfall at 1,000 spaces.
Frontage road parking has been a contentious issue for years, with town councils at times banning it outright, which still is the case for most of the year in the central core of town, although there is now daily parking on portions of the North Frontage Road throughout the year. However, as peak days continue to increase, frontage road parking in the town core will necessarily increase, absent decisive action from the town officials.
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