Steamboat City Council to consider downtown parking meter proposal Tuesday |

Steamboat City Council to consider downtown parking meter proposal Tuesday

An advertisement in an August 1947 edition of the Steamboat Pilot announces the arrival of parking meters in downtown Steamboat Springs. The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday will discuss possible changes to the downtown parking.
Scott Franz

— Preparing for Halloween festivities in downtown Steamboat Springs in 1951 was a bit more of a chore for the town than it is today.

The town board wasn’t going to let any pranksters get to Steamboat’s new parking meters.

“Not only were the town fathers cautious about getting meters off the street before pranksters could get in their licks, but they also removed trash cans, bicycle racks and other loose city property until after the two day open season on mischief had passed,” the Steamboat Pilot reported Nov. 1, 1951.

Fast forward to today, and the Steamboat Springs City Council is considering writing a new chapter in parking history that might include the return of parking meters more than 60 years after the town’s first experiment with them ended with a meter smashing celebration.

A parking consultant with Desman Associates on Tuesday night will tell the council it should consider installing parking meters on Lincoln Avenue and Yampa Street where they run from Fifth to 10th streets.

The addition of 580 “smart” single space meters would cost an estimated $472,700, or 44 multi-space meters would cost between $506,000 to $594,000, according to the consultant.

The consultant estimates the new meters would generate $463,585 in revenue in their first year.

The consultant also will brief the council on other parking improvements, including the prospect of a parking structure.

Steamboat has had the parking meter debate before.

In July 1947, Steamboat’s town board decided to add meters downtown on Lincoln Avenue to combat a problem of cars parking all day in the same spot.

It was the same problem the city is trying to solve today.

“It was found that many cars were parking all day and that those coming to Steamboat to trade were forced to park blocks away,” the Pilot reported.

Steamboat adopted meters at the same time places like Meeker and Vernal were installing them.

A cent bought 12 minutes of parking time in the meters manufactured by the Duncan Meter Corp., of Chicago.

Later in 1947 and 1948, town leaders proclaimed the meters had been successful.

But the praise didn’t last long.

Business owners started to blame the meters for pushing shoppers away from downtown.

The meters would meet their demise in the early 1950s.

In September 1951, the Pilot reported the meters ultimately failed to bring in enough revenue to pay their way, and the town board decided the town was too small to support them.

Contributing to the meters downfall was the fact that the machines ran for only six months of the year and two busy downtown grocery stores had moved away from the meter zone since they were installed.

On July 10, 1952, the Pilot reported the meters were going to be taken up “as rapidly as possible.”

Town officials, civic club leaders and and merchants planned a demolition party that week to “swing the axe on them.”

Will newer versions of meters make a comeback on Lincoln Avenue?

The City Council will take up the topic sometime at 5 p.m. Tuesday in Citizens Hall.

Community members again will have an opportunity to weigh in on what could become another chapter in Steamboat parking history.

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

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