Snowmass skier parking to remain free " at least for this winter |

Snowmass skier parking to remain free " at least for this winter

Katie Redding
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

SNOWMASS VILLAGE ” Skier parking at the Snowmass rodeo lot will be free this winter after all.

The Town of Snowmass Village Council on Monday voted 3-1 to reverse its July 7 decision to charge $5 per car for rodeo lot parking. Located between the intercept lot and the Snowmass ski area base, the lot has provided the only free parking for skiers who visit Snowmass, other than Two Creeks, which has offered complimentary parking after noon in past seasons.

The reversal came after council members realized that Aspen Skiing Co. had rejected the town’s parking plan proposal once it included the $5 charge. The town of Snowmass and the Skico are engaged in negotiations that would have Skico manage all Snowmass parking for the upcoming ski season

If Snowmass cannot successfully negotiate with the Skico, it will have to manage parking in all lots, except the Skico’s Two Creeks lot, next winter.

Councilman Reed Lewis, who raised the issue for further discussion, also said many community members had expressed concern to him about paid parking plan.

Among the concerns were accessibility issues, how to have enough manpower to monitor the paid parking, and alienating skiers during a tentative economic climate, Lewis said.

Lewis also cast the vote that reversed the decision.

Mayor Douglas Mercatoris and Councilwoman Sally Sparhawk voted in favor of a new offer to the Skico that would make parking at the rodeo lot free, would not increase the residential parking permit fee, and would implement a “sliding scale” fee at the Two Creeks parking lot. The sliding scale would lower prices at Two Creeks on busy days, to entice drivers away from the rodeo lot. Last year, drivers paid $13 to park at Two Creeks before noon.

Councilman John Wilkinson voted against the proposed offer, arguing that paid parking could fund such amenities as an express bus between the rodeo lot and lifts.

He also pointed to last winter, in which the rodeo lot filled up on 25 days. On those days, town staff directed visitors to park in the numbered lots, which Snowmass citizens pay for, he said.

But skiers who prefer free parking in the rodeo lot may have to cherish the privilege this winter. Council also directed staff to consider implementing paid parking at the lot during the winter of 2009-10.

“I feel that traffic demand management is important to the community, but this was not the year to implement paid parking at the rodeo,” Mercatoris said.

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