Vail Homeowners Association: Revenue shortfalls, parking still issues (column)
Editor’s note: 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.
Vail Recreation District: The town of Vail is not the only local entity considering an increase in fees or taxes. The Vail Recreation District recently announced that it faces an $8.5 million improvement deficit over the next 10 years. This is in addition to $4 million that will need to be spent by the town of Vail (under a lease agreement the town and the rec district share the costs and upkeep of various facilities).
In part, this Vail Recreation District shortfall is due to declining property tax revenues and operating deficits on the golf course. To make up the shortfall, the rec district is deciding whether to raise taxes, user fees or both. Currently, the rec district is conducting a community survey to determine the best course of action. If there is to be an increase in taxes, the ballot provision must be certified by the end of August.
• The Transportation Task Force: Having finalized a “summer strategy” that will institute paid parking for the summer months to force turnover and more availability of summer parking, it seems that the Transportation Task Force is not going to consider parking facilities as part of an overall transportation strategy, even though Vail faces a two-front problem. There currently isn’t enough available public parking and both of Vail’s current parking structures are going to need major work in the near term.
A source from within the Transportation Task Force reports that costs for a redo and/or expansion of the Lionshead Village and Vail Village parking structures were reviewed, but the town of Vail staff discouraged any consideration of those subjects by representing that the Lionshead Village structure was good for another 20 years; a number that has been continually cited for the better part of the last decade, i.e., the goal post keeps moving.
Ignoring the town of Vail’s “maintain and replace” obligation for the parking structures is shortsighted. One doesn’t have to be a professional engineer to see that the Lionshead Village structure is already in need of significant repairs. The Vail structure is now 43 years old and it, too, will need major work in the not-distant future. Current estimates place the repair/replace cost for both structures at $200-plus million, as estimated by town officials, and there could be other unforeseen costs that have yet to be made known publicly.
More concerning is Vail’s need for additional parking. Present estimates are that Vail is 400 to 600 spaces short of current needs, based on an evaluation of the town of Vail’s daily counts. This is a problem not just for the town of Vail but also for on-mountain operations. Current parking inventories are woefully short of what is required by the Vail Resorts/U.S. Forest Service Vail Mountain Master Development and annual operating plans. Those plans were based on the assumption that Ever Vail (750 spaces) and an expansion of the Lionshead Village structure (200 spaces) would be built, which, of course, has not happened. It’s no wonder that overflow parking now exceeds permissible limits.
In the absence of sufficient parking, the town of Vail has resorted to frontage road parking, but as one task force insider put it, that strategy hangs by a “slender thread.” If there is a pedestrian accident with serious injuries or worse, which most agree is bound to happen, then there is a belief that the Colorado Department of Transportation will permanently suspend the practice.
The Task Force should not ignore this public-safety hazard and, instead, recommend real solutions for Vail’s long-term benefit, other than tolerating the problem.
The Vail Homeowners Association board is Gail Ellis, president; and directors Judith Berkowitz, John Gorsuch, John Lohre, Andres Nevares, Trygve Myhren, Larry Stewart and Doug Tansill.
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