Vail Resorts, Breckenridge Town Council remain at odds over parking garage plan | SummitDaily.com

Vail Resorts, Breckenridge Town Council remain at odds over parking garage plan

The South Gondola Lot is full on Wednesday, March 14, in Breckenridge. Vail Resorts owns the parking lot, and while a number of people in town think it would be the best location for a new parking garage, the town and resort officials have been unable to reach a deal that would allow a parking garage to be built here.

At the annual State of the Town address on Wednesday night, Breckenridge Mayor Eric Mamula offered an update regarding negotiations between town officials and Vail Resorts over building a parking garage on one of the resort-owned properties in town.

Vail Resorts owns Breckenridge Ski Resort and maintains three parking lots in the town: the Gold Rush, North and South Gondola lots. Meanwhile, the town has been pursuing a plan to build a 400-space parking garage on the town-owned surface parking lots at Tiger Dredge and F Lot since last summer, when town council decided that was the town's best available option.

Most everyone in town agrees that the parking garage would be better suited on the ski resort's South Gondola Lot, but it's unclear if the two parties will be able to reach an agreement that could land it there.

Responding to questions posed by the members of the public on Wednesday, the mayor said talks remain exactly where they were in the first week of April, when the potential agreement fell through, and the two sides haven't spoken since. However, Mamula expressed optimism the silence could soon break and discussions will be resurrected.

"We still hope that there will be some conversation with Vail over the use of South Gondola," he said Wednesday. "While as of right now we're not talking to each other, I always hope there is some thawing."

After deciding that the Tiger Dredge and F Lot would be the best available option, the town spent much of last year planning and designing the parking garage there. Officials with Vail Resorts offered a lukewarm response to the plan, saying that Breckenridge was taking steps in the right direction but they fell well short of living up to what the resort has characterized as a broken town promise, made in 2015, to build up a 900-space parking garage on the F Lot property.

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It's since been revealed that building such a large structure at Tiger Dredge and F Lot could trigger a Colorado Department of Transportation highway widening project in downtown Breckenridge that nobody wants to see, according to town staff.

After the discussions to build on the South Gondola Lot surfaced and failed, town council put its construction plans at Tiger Dredge and F Lot on hold, a move that gives the two sides, however far apart they may be, significantly more time to try to work a deal.

Mamula said he and town manager Rick Holman "had some great discussions for a couple of weeks" with officials at Vail Resorts, and they got "very close to an agreement" before talks got hung up on some of the details and the potential agreement fell apart.

"That's just how these things go," Mamula said. "We're hoping to get back on that sooner than later."

Mamula's updates regarding parking garage talks with Vail Resorts were offered at the beginning of the State of the Town, and he reiterated his comments at the end of the address, as well.

"We've decided to put the parking structure on hold … in order to potentially engage Vail Resorts to put the parking garage where it belongs, which is South Gondola," he said at the end of the address. "I think most people in the community agree that is where it belongs, and if we don't get there, maybe we end up building it on property that we own."

But he's hoping that won't be the case.

"Honestly, South Gondola is where it belongs," the mayor conceded before asking for the public's help. "If you, as a citizen, have anybody you know who works for the resorts up high, send that message."

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