Draft Steamboat downtown plan recommends metered parking, more lights | SteamboatToday.com

Draft Steamboat downtown plan recommends metered parking, more lights

Traffic moves through downtown Steamboat Springs. (File photo by Scott Franz)

Editor’s note: This story is the second of a two-part series about Steamboat Springs’ downtown plan. Check out the first story in the series to learn more about the development of the plan, art, heritage and recommended zoning changes.  

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The city of Steamboat Springs is in the final stages of developing a new plan that will guide projects in Steamboat’s downtown corridor.

The public has the opportunity to share comments and suggested improvements to the draft plan online and at a planning commission work session at 5 p.m. Oct. 11 in Centennial Hall. The downtown plan is the third item on the agenda.

The plan outlines goals to improve the experience for people visiting, shopping, living and working downtown.

If you go

What: Steamboat Planning Commission public hearing and work session

When: 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11

Where: Citizens meeting room in Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

If you can’t attend the meeting, you can also submit public comment by visiting steamboatsprings.net/791/Downtown-Plan.

To view a live stream of the meeting and a recorded video after the meeting, visit steamboatsprings.net, click “Agendas” and locate Thursday’s planning meeting.

Though the plan outlines an action plan, the items listed are still only goals, and many of them would require identifying funding sources and organizing the collaboration of numerous state and local agencies and organizations.

For example, recommended changes on Lincoln Avenue would nearly all require approval and cooperation with the Colorado Department of Transportation.

“Every issue is likely to have more than one entity that needs to work together,” said former city planning director Tyler Gibbs, who is serving as a consultant to develop the final plan. “But obviously somebody needs to be identified as the lead, and there needs to be a very specific goal identified and a time frame and responsibilities. That’s a part of what we will ultimately include in the action plan.”

After the planning commission work session, commissioners will likely discuss the plan one more time on Oct. 25. If it earns the planning commission’s approval, it will be recommended for City Council’s approval at its Nov. 13 meeting.

Connectivity, parking and mobility

Managing all means of transit on Lincoln Avenue is complicated by the fact that it is also U.S. Highway 40 and serves a variety of travelers in commercial vehicles, passenger cars, bikes and pedestrians.

“A lot of the traffic is not stopping downtown,” Gibbs said. “They want to be able to move through downtown expeditiously. On the other hand, it is our downtown, and it is the densest pedestrian area in our community and people have every expectation that they should be able to get around easily on foot.”

Stoplights on each intersection, crosswalks and a reduced speed limit on Lincoln were recommended to improve the safety and experience of pedestrians.

Courtesy city of Steamboat Springs

The plan makes recommendations to diversify transit downtown, including a later bus schedule to transport late-night employees, additional bike connectors and bike racks downtown.

Some of these items, including more bike trail connectivity and more common gathering spaces, were also recommended in the city’s recent Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Trails master plan.

The draft plan includes several recommendations for downtown parking, including metered parking and a review of the time limits on existing parking spaces.

Additional enforcement of Lincoln’s 25-mile-per-hour speed limit and timed parking was also a goal listed in the plan.

Character of the built environment

Most properties downtown are less dense than code allows, according to measurements of floor area ratios in downtown properties, which is the ratio of building square footage to the size of the parcel on which the building is located.

As redevelopment occurs, the plan recommends creating more dense properties.

Areas where there is an opportunity for redevelopment, according to the plan, include several parcels on the east and west ends of downtown and local government buildings. This plan suggests that redevelopment creates a cohesive look with Steamboat’s historic buildings.

The plan also calls for small parks at the end of cross streets to preserve Yampa River access and views.

The draft plan outlines efforts to beautify Steamboat’s alleyways with public art and screening dumpsters and grease traps.

Because many retail spaces in downtown’s historic buildings do not need the square footage that their predecessors did 100 years ago, some ground-level retail could be split and make use of alley entrances, Gibbs said.

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email ehasenbeck@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.

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