Our View: Parking crunch ahead
Do a search for “parking in downtown Steamboat Springs,” and you’ll find numerous articles written by Steamboat Pilot & Today reporters over the years along with links to several parking studies commissioned by the city.
It’s clear the subject of downtown parking is not new, and the topic was raised again last week in connection with Steamboat Springs City Council’s decision to allow a new boutique hotel on private property being leased by the city to provide 46 public parking spaces. In giving their OK to the project, several City Council members acknowledged parking is an issue that needs to be addressed, and we agree.
As downtown development continues, the issue of parking should not be handled in piecemeal fashion. Council would be wise to come up with a proactive solution, especially knowing that half of downtown parking available to the public is on private property that could one day be developed, as will happen on the west end of Yampa Street.
The city has made a big investment in revitalizing the downtown corridor through improved infrastructure, new sidewalks and streetscaping, and it’s great to see those public dollars attracting private investment. Now, it’s time for the city to take a serious look at the downtown parking issue to ensure that visitors and locals can enjoy the shopping, dining, lodging and living that a vibrant downtown offers.
The discussion surrounding parking has been going on for more than a decade.
Back in 2005, City Council was focused on improving the “economic vitality and pedestrian flow in Old Town Steamboat Springs” by working to create ways to keep employees from using prime customer parking spots, according to an April 30, 2005, newspaper article.
In 2014, the city commissioned a parking study that offered several different solutions, many of which were discussed but never acted upon. And most recently, in April, City Council adopted a new downtown area plan that will be used to guide decision-making and address a number of issues, including parking.
Over the years, many parking recommendations have been suggested, and we think it’s time the city consider implementing a few of them, especially those outlined in the downtown plan.
At issue: As Steamboat’s downtown continues to grow and develop, parking becomes a bigger issue.
Our View: It’s time for the city to implement some long-term parking solutions for the downtown business district.
- Logan Molen, publisher
- Lisa Schlichtman, editor
- Jason Gilligan, community representative
- Don Moss, community representative
The idea of constructing a downtown parking garage is an option we’d like to see tabled for the time being. The estimated cost of nearly $45,000 per parking spot makes this a cost-prohibitive proposition, and rather than investing that type of money in a parking structure, we’d like to see the city pursue other options first.
In our opinion, there’s an argument to be made that Steamboat may have enough parking if the city would consider adopting several of the following options:
• Increase enforcement of parking time limits year-round.
• Convert some eight-hour parking spots into two- and four-hour, time-limited spaces in core areas of downtown.
• Encourage people, especially employees of downtown businesses, to park farther away from downtown in areas like the Howelsen Hill and Stock Bridge Transit Center parking lots, which offer more than 550 parking spaces combined.
• Entice people to use these more remote spots by offering a parking shuttle or increasing frequency of free bus stops in the area, especially for late-night shift workers.
• Implement some paid parking spaces in the central downtown business district. In the past, the idea of metered parking has been met with opposition from some downtown merchants, but as public parking places begin to disappear due to development, business owners might be ready to support this option.
An opportunity exists for the city to better manage parking downtown, and we encourage City Council to make this a priority and take some action on the issue in 2020.
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