Steamboat City Council is 1 vote shy of adding parking meters downtown | SteamboatToday.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Steamboat City Council is 1 vote shy of adding parking meters downtown

A line of cars is parked Tuesday on Yampa Street.
John F. Russell

In other action

• The council voted, 5-2, to pass the second and final reading of the purchase of the Workman property at 603 Yampa St. The property, which hosts a 100-year-old home, is poised to become a new public park with improved river access. The city will fund the purchase with $617,000 of the $900,000 of the lodging tax dollars voters approved to spend on Yampa Street. The lodging tax dollars also will be used to convert the property into the park. Council members Ford and Magill voted against the purchase.

• The council passed the first reading of the 2015 budget. No significant changes were made Tuesday night.

— The Steamboat Springs City Council is one vote shy of ordering parking meters for one of the few large downtown areas on the Western Slope that remain free of them.

Three council members Tuesday night touted paid parking as a wise, revenue-generating tool that could help to alleviate future parking issues they fear soon will grow worse.

The other four council members either were against the idea of meters altogether or wanted to look more closely at other options before considering the big parking change.



In the coming weeks, community members ultimately could help to decide whether meters return more than 60 years after they were ripped out of Lincoln Avenue and smashed at a party.

Torn over the meter issue, the council ended its parking discussion with three parking decisions more subtle than meters.



First, they endorsed a parking consultant’s recommendation to re-stripe the public parking lot at Eighth and Oak streets to add 12 additional spaces to the city’s parking inventory.

Then, they agreed to a proposal to shrink some parking spots downtown from 10 feet wide to the more standard 9 feet to open up an additional 35 spaces.

Finally, they asked city staff to continue studying parking options ranging from meters to license plate reading technology to the leasing of parking spaces.

Council members specifically were interested in looking more closely at the economics of the parking options.

But the bigger and more impactful possibility of meters still looms.

“I think (paid parking) provides a lot of of benefits in the long run,” council member Kenny Reisman said.

Reisman said he liked the idea of revenue collected from parking meters being available to help alleviate future parking issues or improve the downtown corridor.

Reisman’s support for meters was echoed by council member Tony Connell and council President Bart Kounovsky.

Kounovsky was concerned about the limited amount of public off-street parking spaces downtown and the potential that future development will shrink those number of spaces.

“When do you want to deal with it? I think now is the time to deal with it,” Kounovsky said.

Only one member of the public, Stuart Orzach, showed up to comment on the recommendations of a parking consultant who spent part of the summer studying downtown parking.

Orzach criticized the city’s recent spending of $54,000 on the parking study and urged the city to take a step back before acting on any changes.

He praised city staff’s recent focus on creating new spaces by changing the layout of parking but said he was opposed to proposals like the license plate readers.

“I don’t want to see any more money wasted or spent on this until we have some questions answered,” Orzach said.

Kounovsky invited the public to engage in the conversation about the potential for paid parking downtown.

“I’m ready to have that public comment and that discussion,” Kounovsky said.

Council member Scott Ford said there was “absolutely no sense of urgency” in trying to improve downtown parking.

He also was critical of the prospect of parking meters.

“Let’s not forget we’re extracting money not only from our visitors, but our citizens,” Ford said.

Walter Magill opposed meters, too, and said they would negatively impact businesses by driving traffic away to other locations.

Council member Sonja Macys said she wanted the city to update the council on its parking enforcement efforts before she considers any major changes to downtown parking.

And Scott Myller said meters “may be bad for downtown” because they could deter shoppers from parking there.

But he wanted more time to keep thinking about the parking recommendations.

The council spent the remainder of its parking debate expressing concern about a plan to add license plate reading technology to enforce parking violations.

The enforcement vehicle likely would have to travel slower than the speed limit on Lincoln Avenue, and several members of the council were concerned it would slow down traffic on the highway.

Tuesday’s parking discussion was spurred by the results of a recent study of Steamboat’s downtown parking.

Scot Martin, from Desman Associates, said the council should consider adding meters to Lincoln Avenue, Yampa Street and side streets, but it should hold off on the decision for a few years to give license plate reading technology a try.

He said he thought Steamboat eventually would have parking meters.

Martin estimated 580 smart single space meters would cost $472,700 to install, while 44 multi-space meters would cost between $506,000 and $594,000.

He said his conservative estimates show the meters could generate $463,585 in their first year of operation.

“We do feel like parking meters are in order because four of the five peer cities we surveyed do have parking meters and they are working for them,” Martin said.

In other action

• The council voted, 5-2, to pass the second and final reading of the purchase of the Workman property at 603 Yampa St. The property, which hosts a 100-year-old home, is poised to become a new public park with improved river access. The city will fund the purchase with $617,000 of the $900,000 of the lodging tax dollars voters approved to spend on Yampa Street. The lodging tax dollars also will be used to convert the property into the park. Council members Ford and Magill voted against the purchase.

• The council passed the first reading of the 2015 budget. No significant changes were made Tuesday night.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.

For tax deductible donations, click here.
 

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User