As in most towns, the topic of parking in Mountain Village is one that always seems to generate lots of opinions. Although Mountain Village owns and operates several parking facilities, we are still faced with more demand for parking than we can accommodate. On approximately 60 days during the ski season and several times during the summer festival season, we find that our parking facilities are full, forcing us to either park cars on our streets, or turn them away. We chose the former, since the people in those cars are our guests, and they need to be accommodated.
The town’s largest parking structure is signed “Free Gondola Parking” and is often referred to as the Gondola Parking Structure. It is located off Mountain Village Boulevard just behind Town Hall, The Market at Mountain Village and the gondola station. At a cost of $9.8 million to Mountain Village taxpayers, this parking structure provides 450 free parking spaces to the public. The Meadows Parking Lot provides another 110 spots.
This would seem like an adequate number of vehicular spaces for our skiers and visitors, however, the structure’s daily capacity diminishes due to a number of factors: lodging guests who are directed to use this free parking lot instead of paying to park at their lodge, construction workers and employees working at the Mountain Village retail, restaurant, lodge, and resort-service establishments. In addition, there are many employees who live outside the area and work in the Town of Telluride, but instead of paying to park in Telluride, they park in the free Gondola Parking Structure and ride the gondola over the mountain. We even find that various groups use the parking structure simply to store vehicles.
Obviously, we have a challenge.
Everyone parking here feels they have a legitimate right to free parking, but are upset when someone else beats them to the available spaces. Furthermore, there is pressure from Mountain Village homeowners to eliminate all on-street parking due to safety concerns. And, understandably, our local citizens are frustrated when they are unable to utilize parking facilities paid for with their tax dollars.
Over the past few years, we have utilized an electronic sign board, housed on Mountain Village Boulevard, to encourage area employees to park in the Meadows Parking Lot and take the Chondola to work. We also will spend about $874,000 this year to operate our bus service and Dial-A-Ride, a free form of public transportation for our residents and visitors to most locations within town limits. Dial-A-Ride is an extension of our parking program and operates in conjunction with our gondola system.
To help mitigate the parking issue for our residents, this past summer we designated the top deck of the Gondola Parking Structure as “Resident Parking.” These spaces are reserved for those residents who properly obtain and display a town parking permit (available with proper identification, at the Mountain Village Police Department). Furthermore, spaces adjacent to the retaining wall in the Town Hall Plaza Parking lot are designated as “Resident Parking” and are free up to four hours every day of the year.
Most recently $5.9 million was allocated towards building another 120 underground public parking spaces at the newly constructed Capella Hotel. Although these spaces will not be free, they will provide another parking option for our residents and visitors. They should be available this spring.
While helpful, these actions have been inadequate, and Town Council has expressed a strong desire to take more forceful actions to better manage our existing parking capacity. The town is now exploring the option of charging for overnight parking and eliminating our 14-day parking policy in the Gondola Parking Structure. We believe that taking such action will free up more spaces for daytime use when vehicular volume is at its greatest and possibly reduce/eliminate on-street parking – at least that is the intent of this proposed policy.
These issues will be on the February Town Council agenda for consideration. If adopted, these changes will likely take effect after the 2008/2009 ski season. We encourage and welcome public input on this matter.
As long as we have automobiles, parking will be an ongoing challenge. In a place where flat land is at a premium, solutions are also very expensive. The Mountain Village Town Council is engaged in finding solutions and will continue to work to ensure that the parking needs of our residents, second homeowners, workers, and visitors are addressed in as safe and cost-effective manner as possible.