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Village Center parking is well-managed

Terry Hackett

There appears to be a great deal of misunderstanding and lack of knowledge concerning the overall parking plan for the Stateline Redevelopment Area, which includes the Marriott-Heavenly Village complex and Village Center. Having been involved with the entire process from inception, let me clarify the situation and relationships. First, I am sure Gary Wyles, who is a tenant at Heavenly Village, is a fine man who works hard to create a successful business.

However, neither he nor any other tenants in the Marriott complex have any right, of any kind or nature, for his customers to utilize customer parking in the Village Center. He knew this when he entered into his lease in the Marriott complex and decided to proceed with leasing his space.

Concerning the “parking Nazi” label, it is a cute way for those who want to take advantage of a situation to put a negative spin on the situation, which the newspaper loves, but unfounded. These parking patrol individuals are hired by the city to perform a job in accordance with agreements with the city. They are local residents who have been trained to do this job and who are constantly seeking better ways to do the job, as evidenced by the lack of complaints during our most recent very busy summer season. Village Center has between 160,000 and 240,000 transactions per month, and we have a handful of complaints.

However, it is the voice of those wanting to park for eight to 10 hours at the Village Center so that they can ski or snowboard, ride the gondola during the summer or stay at the Marriott without paying parking fees who complain. Legitimate customers of Village Center have no problems with our free, two-hour parking and living within the rules.

The issue of parking was discussed for years during the redevelopment planning. Each side of the street was to be “separate and self-sufficient” with respect to its parking. The problem with the Marriott complex is that for the developers to build what they wanted to, there was not enough land for surface parking and, therefore, they had to build a parking structure to accommodate their customers. Unfortunately, the developers could not, or would not, pay for the parking structure and, therefore, for the city to keep the redevelopment process moving forward, had to agree to build and maintain the structure and went into debt with bond financing to do so.

To the contrary, Village Center had sufficient surface parking to meet the city codes and obligations to its tenants with respect to parking. Village Center put its own money into its surface parking improvements as part of its plan. For us to move forward with our remodel, both Raley’s and our lenders demanded that there be in place a parking agreement protecting our parking from poachers wanting to use the Marriott complex. Therefore, parking agreements were entered into and the joint parking authority was created to deal with parking throughout the redevelopment area. Basically, the city patrols the parking, receives revenues from the parking structure, and makes payments on the parking structure bonds.

Is the parking patrol needed? Absolutely. Before our parking patrol was in place, our center became inoperable at times in the winter and summer. Snowboarders and skiers, to avoid paying in the parking structure, would come early and tie up spaces for eight to 10 hours, parking on top of snow removal mounds, in fire lanes and aisle ways. There were times when we could not get emergency vehicles into the center. Our tenants, your friends and neighbors, could not do business, as customers could only circle the lot looking for a parking space. This also happens consistently in the busy summer months with tourists wanting to visit the Marriott complex.

In short, the two-hour free parking for our customers is here to stay at the Village Center. We have the duty to protect our tenants and will do so. We hope that the community appreciates the $25 million plus expended to make the Village Center one of the top retail centers in the region. We have lived up to our commitment under the parking agreements and, in fact, have done more to subsidize the operation. We expect others to do so. If the Marriott complex and its tenants have a problem with their parking arrangement, it is up to them to resolve.

— Terry C. Hackett is managing partner of the Village Center.


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