The Village at Breckenridge HOA board takes council to task (letter)
Last month, disturbing news reached us of possible plans that you have to reverse the original plans that the town had to build a parking structure to service the south end of Breckenridge.
As you know, these original plans were developed from the results of the Breckenridge Parking Surveys conducted in December 2013 and March 2014, which included responses from over 2,300 participants, the OZ Architecture Feasibility Study and the recommendations of the Parking Task Force. These efforts culminated in the Congestion Relief Plan, anchored by a parking structure, as outlined in the town’ s press release of May 15, 2015.
In order to implement the original plans, you passed Resolution 19, which contained specific language to build “a parking structure within the Town” and calling for “a 4.5-percent Admission Tax on … all ski lift tickets sold” to fund it. This plan was then put on the 2A ballot for the town’s people to vote on, which passed by a vote of 917 to 185, an 83-percent approval rating. Although the language contained in the 2A ballot did not specifically mention the parking structure, it was definitely implied when it contained language regarding the costs of providing public parking within the town. The actual language:
“All of the Admission Excise Tax collected by the Town be paid into a specific fund for the Town and used only to pay for or reimburse the Town for … (2) the direct and indirect costs of providing public parking within the Town, including without limitation, land acquisition costs, construction, and maintenance.”
In addition, the expectation that such a structure would be built, in all likelihood on F-Lot, was created through public statements made by you last year and by exploratory meetings that were held between the town, Breckenridge Ski Resort and The Village of Breckenridge.
Renderings of the F-Lot Parking Structure were commissioned by the town and talks about an easement to build a skybridge that would connect the F-Lot Parking Structure to Peak 9 were conducted. Moreover, the town began the implementation of the 4.5-percent admission tax. All of these actions presumed the building of a parking structure in the town that would alleviate a majority of the traffic created by automobiles driving around Breckenridge looking for close-in parking.
For some unknown reason, the town then decided to hire outside consultants to study traffic flow and write a report containing recommendations. While this report had some good ideas, it completely missed the mark regarding parking. The report was written by consultants who are either unfamiliar with the ski resort of Breckenridge or who simply ignored what is best for the town and the skiing public who economically make Breckenridge viable. For example, all of the renderings attached to the report depict people walking on pathways during the summer.
That is not realistic six months out of the year when the largest number of people need to get from their cars to the ski slopes.
In addition, in the February 2016 consultant’s draft, two ski resorts were used to demonstrate why Breckenridge would benefit from their recommendations. The two resorts mentioned were Mammoth Lakes, California and Whistler-Blackcomb, British Columbia — neither of which are in Colorado. Obviously, the consultants have never been to Whistler. Their own exhibit demonstrates that there is close-in parking, which will accommodate at least 1,000 automobiles within easy walking distance through a tunnel to the slopes at Whistler.
Instead, the consultants should have studied Vail Mountain. It is the closest example to Breckenridge that they could have used, and it is right here in our own backyard. Vail saw the need for in-town parking and built two large parking structures within walking distance of the slopes at Vail Village and Lionshead. It solved virtually all of the in-town traffic congestion and made it a very convenient amenity for skiers to access the resort.
We know you think that because you commissioned and paid for this traffic study, that somehow you are obligated to follow all of its recommendations. However, nothing could be further from the truth. At times, we hire people who give us bad advice, and we are never obligated to take it simply because we paid for it. You have heard the old saying: “garbage in, garbage out.” These consultants may have convinced you that they know what they are talking about, but, sadly, that is not the case. Their own exhibits in the report do not substantiate what they are recommending.
The consultant’s opinions of having remote lots with connecting gondolas, heated walkways and/or increased bus service are not what the citizens of Breckenridge either need or want and it is certainly not what they voted for.
Additional remote parking lots do nothing for the town residents and, especially, the businesses in Breckenridge. If anything, they are counter-productive. When people arrive for skiing or even in the summer, they want to park reasonably near the activity they will be attending. Especially in the winter — they don’t relish lugging skis, boots, poles and other ski equipment from their car to a gondola or bus and finally to the slope. Neither do they stay in town after skiing if they have to take their equipment to a remote lot. By the time they arrive at the remote lot through several modes of transportation, they would just as soon go home or take their business to Frisco or other towns.
The consultant has opined that a 10-percent reduction in traffic can result in a major reduction in congestion. A parking structure at F-Lot along with additional traffic roundabouts on Park Avenue and elsewhere will accomplish this objective and will be skier-friendly.
Several years ago, Breckenridge was ranked as the “Best Ski Resort in North America” by Skier Magazine. If we wish to remain in such a category, we must meet the needs of the skiing public. Realize that the consultant’s report did not adequately address vehicle /pedestrian conflicts on Park Avenue and Main Street. Traffic would flow better if these choke points were actually controlled by “walk/don’t walk” electric devices that were synchronized. Certainly, more traffic lights are not the solution.
The southside and center of Breckenridge have been getting the short straw for years, even though these areas basically service Peaks 8, 9 and 10 — three of the five mountains. It is time to open our eyes and provide a solution to this problem by providing a viable parking structure at the south end of town.
In summary, let’s do the right thing. The affirmative vote for 2A was based upon Resolution 19. It was a call for action by the citizens of Breckenridge — not a call to follow a jaded study that sadly lacks in expertise or to conduct further studies.
We join with Breckenridge Ski Resort and the citizens of Breckenridge in delivering what was promised. Delaying or failing to construct the F-Lot Parking Structure amenity is disingenuous and smacks of bad decision making and a lack of transparency.
Implement the Congestion Relief Plan, anchored by the F-Lot Parking Structure, so that the citizens of Breckenridge know that they didn’t pass a tax based on a false assumption, and that they are getting what they voted for — a “true solution” to the problem and an enlightened vision of the future of their town.
The Village at Breckenridge HOA Board of Directors
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