Breckenridge takes the call on parking survey initiated by ski resort (with audio) | SummitDaily.com

Breckenridge takes the call on parking survey initiated by ski resort (with audio)

Elise Reuter
ereuter@summitdaily.com

Registered Breckenridge voters may have picked up an unexpected call last week. Bernett Information Group, a national surveying company, is soliciting responses regarding the best use of lift ticket tax revenues.

Breckenridge Ski Resort communications manager Kristen Petitt Stewart confirmed they had released the survey.

"We did a survey about a year ago at this time around parking and transportation, as well," she said.

The survey from last year was released shortly before the town and the ski resort reached an agreement on how the 4.5-percent tax would be administered: It would not be levied on season passes or multi-resort tickets and carried a minimum guarantee of $3.5 million in revenue to the town.

“The bottom line is, you go to a doctor and he tells you to take a certain pill; you believe the doctor because that’s what he does for a living.”Jeffrey BergeronBreckenridge councilman

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The most recent batch of questions is focused on parking in particular, with questions as pointed as "Agree or disagree: The town council should be moving the process along to build a parking structure starting as soon as possible to relieve parking problems," and as broad as, "How big of a problem is parking in Breckenridge?"

When the phone rang during a Tue., June 19 town council meeting, councilman Jeffrey Bergeron was the first to pick up. He "strongly disagreed" to statements such as "Breckenridge Ski Resort has a right to be upset with town council for not moving forward with parking plans after lift-ticket tax agreement was reached last year" as well as "If the town of Breckenridge decides to postpone parking planning, then skiers and guests of Breckenridge Ski Resort shouldn't have to pay the tax on lift tickets."

"There's no bias in that survey," Mayor Pro Tem Wendy Wolfe quipped after Bergeron hung up.

AN EVOLVING PROCESS

In November, ballot measure 2A passed by a landslide, with more than 83 percent of voters in favor of the tax. The town began collections on pre-sales in July.

Now, the conversation between Breckenridge Town Council and Breckenridge Ski Resort has shifted to when — and where — a parking structure should be constructed. Breckenridge Ski Resort COO John Buhler pushed for the town to begin the planning process ASAP for a parking structure on F-Lot, but consultants hired by the town advised improving pedestrian access and traffic flow prior to building a garage downtown.

"I'm more inclined to take their advice," Bergeron said. "The bottom line is, you go to a doctor and he tells you to take a certain pill; you believe the doctor because that's what he does for a living."

The town is also considering another option — purchasing the gondola lot from Breckenridge Ski Resort and building a structure there. Mayor Eric Mamula said the property was being appraised.

"The lines of communication between John, Pat and I are open," he said.

Town of Breckenridge communications manager Kim Dykstra said the town's parking and transportation taskforce was currently working with the consultants to create a final report, which will go before town council this summer.

"They're working on items for the final checklist of things to do," she said.

The report was developed with three public-input sessions, in which Breckenridge residents overwhelmingly supported managing parking demand over increasing capacity. Those present also supported improving transit, pedestrian and bike options over increasing traffic and parking capacity. In the choice between various town-owned parcels for a parking structure, residents favored F-Lot or a remote location (out of the town core).

"It's an evolving process," Dykstra said. "We have some items to move forward."

In an employee parking survey conducted for the town between 2013 and 2014, about 37 percent of respondents strongly supported a parking structure on F-Lot, and 22 percent supported it. However, the majority (73 percent) were not interested in leasing a designated parking space in an F-Lot structure, and 53 percent said they would not spend more for an employee parking permit at F-Lot.