Construction in Snowmass means less day skier parking this winter

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times
The temporary Snowmass fire department area.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times

Snowmass Village will house 160 fewer parking spaces for day skiers this winter than last due to construction of Base Village and the new fire district.

The guest parking lots numbered 1 to 13 across from the Snowmass Mall will cost $10 to park in per day — a $3 increase over last year.

At a Snowmass Town Council meeting this evening, elected officials will discuss and vote on the winter parking plan as proposed.

Snowmass town staff recommend the council approve the 2017-18 winter parking plan, which is an agreement between the municipality, Aspen Skiing Co., East West Partners, Snowmass Mountain Lodging and the Base Village Metropolitan District No. 1.

“There’s no more parking in Snowmass, short of building a new lot.” -David Peckler, Town of Snowmass transportation director

Aside from the fewer spaces and increased fee to park in the guest lots, town Transportation Director David Peckler said Friday the plan is “virtually the same” as last winter’s plan.

One hundred and twenty of the total 160 loss in spaces are located at the bottom of Snowmass Ski Area in Lot C, which will remain closed throughout the winter as the Limelight Hotel is constructed.

The Rodeo Lot, otherwise known as the current home to the Snowmass-Wildcat Fire Protection District, typically accommodates 40 day-skier parking spaces.

The fire district is leasing the Rodeo Grounds from the town of Snowmass, which owns the property, for another year while its new $17 million department is built at its original site along Owl Creek Road. In the interim, the 4,200-square-foot facility, staff and apparatuses occupy the lot and parking.

The 13 guest parking lots adjacent to the mall account for about 1,000 of the total 2,271 parking spaces Snowmass Village will offer this winter, according to the proposed agreement.

The town of Snowmass boasted 2,431 spaces during the 2016-17 ski season, Peckler said. He said this ski season would offer the least amount of day-skier parking at the resort in recent years.

While Peckler admitted the lack of parking is “probably going to be impactful” at peak times during the ski season — citing “New Years week, a big powder day or an (Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club) kids’ ski day” as examples — he said there isn’t much the town or Transportation Department can do.

“There’s no more parking in Snowmass,” Peckler said, “short of building a new lot.”

The town’s goal with its winter parking operations is to “protect the quality of life and at the same time provide the greatest amount of access to the ski area as possible,” Peckler said.

Recognizing that the two ideas can conflict with one another, Peckler said the town seeks to find a balance “without overriding our road network.”

The transportation director encouraged skiers this winter to ride Roaring Fork Transportation Authority buses to the intercept lot and transfer onto another bus that drops off at the Snowmass Mall. Like last ski season, a bus will pick up from the intercept lot and drop off at the mall every 15 minutes.

The Snowmass Town Council meeting will begin at 4 p.m. inside the Town Hall chambers.