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denver & the west
Copper's parking plan blasted
County officials say expanding a lot on public land will worsen clogsBy Steve LipsherDenver Post Staff Writer
Article Launched: 03/21/2007 01:00:00 AM MDTBreckenridge
- Summit County officials skewered a proposal by Copper Mountain ski area to expand a parking lot on public land, contending that it wouldn't ease traffic snarls on a state highway.
"It's going to be an even heavier impact than it has today, (and) today is a nightmare," said Tom Long, chairman of the board of county commissioners.
Copper executives are working with the U.S. Forest Service on the plan to add more than 1,000 parking spaces to the Corn lot, across Colorado 91 from the ski resort, as a first phase in its long-sought proposal to redevelop portions of the base village.
General manager Gary Rodgers and mountain-planning director Tim Thompson said the goal is to eliminate traffic-clogging overflow parking along the main road into the resort.
"Last year, there were days where we turned cars away. That's not too good for guest experiences," Thompson said at a meeting with commissioners Tuesday.
Copper isn't the only ski area struggling with parking. This season, cars parked along highways at some busy resorts were towed and owners were issued tickets.
"We need to design parking lots for Easter Sunday," said commissioner Thomas Davidson, alluding to the quandary about whether to build churches for the regular attendance or to accommodate the crowds on holy days. "I hate the inefficiency of it, but we have to park the cars."
The resort can handle as many as 5,000 vehicles, Thompson said, but the expansion of the Corn lot would ease the dangerous mix of traffic, parked cars and slope-bound pedestrians along Copper Road.
Long, however, said parking more cars across the highway would only add to the problematic congestion.
Rodgers promised that any parking spaces lost to future development would be replaced on resort property, but resort officials also acknowledged Copper Road still could be used for overflow parking.
That prompted both Long and Davidson to wonder out loud about the propriety of putting parking on public lands as the resort maximizes real-estate development on private land at the base.
"You don't have an increase in parking spaces whatsoever. You're just shuffling them from one place to another," Long responded. "I'm just being honest with you guys: This looks like the rearrangement of the stinkin' deck chairs on the Titanic." Staff writer Steve Lipsher can be reached at 970-513-9495 or firstname.lastname@example.org.