Transit Center ideas sought |

Transit Center ideas sought

Parking questions loom as facility nears completion

— When residents meet to discuss the final stage of the Stockbridge Multi-Modal Center, chances are questions will be aimed at the facility’s barely-used 150 parking spaces.

Chris Wilson, director of Parks, Open Space and Recreation, said he would be surprised if parking questions weren’t raised during tonight’s public meeting held to discuss Phase III of the transit park and ride center on U.S. 40.

Because of grant restrictions, Wilson said the city is required to put some sort of parking element, along with a potential community building and green space, into the final stage of the project.

The original intent for Phase III was to boost the center’s parking to 275 spaces, but Wilson said the grant does not stipulate how much parking is required in the final stage.

Tonight’s public meeting gives the community a chance to say what it wants to see on the tract of land adjacent to the parking lot and transportation building, Wilson said.

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Options for the 3.21 acres of undeveloped land could include a community building, commercial and retail space, and a playground. City Public Works Director Jim Weber said a retail shop could be considered anything from a coffee shop or deli to a bike rental.

The meeting will also allow citizens to discuss how much open space and trail access they want to see on the land.

Tonight’s meeting will follow a charette process with city officials explaining the constraints, citizens breaking into groups to develop ideas for the third phase and then prioritizing those suggestions and overlaying them on a site plan.

“The goal is to explore ideas that the neighborhood and community at large have for creating a more lively, diverse and functional facility,” City Assistant Planning Director Tim McHarg said.

Wilson is among the many public officials who defend the park and ride center and its 147 spaces.

He said it would be a blessing 10 to 20 years from now when traffic and parking becomes congested downtown.

“We are looking and planning 10 to 20 years out. Envisioning those kind of things,” Wilson said.

But right now the parking lot remains largely unused and the biggest asset is the center’s bus turnaround, which moved from Go-Fer Foods.

Although the Colorado Department of Transportation heralds Stockbridge as a prime example for a multi-use transit center and city officials claim it will be needed in years to come, public opinion varies.

In the 2002 Community Survey released in May, more than 50 percent of the respondents said they were not at all satisfied with the Stockbridge Park and Ride.

Only the Steamboat Springs Airport, which is still paying off the debt for a terminal it is renting to Smartwool, ranked lower in overall public satisfaction.

The city had budgeted $150,000 with a matching grant of $600,000 in 2002 for the final phase of the project, but the amount was dropped to $40,000 for the design portion, and the construction of trails and pedestrian connections.

Wilson said it is too late to start construction for Phase III this year, but next summer a signal light should go in at the entrance of the center.

The cost of the signal light is estimated at $250,000 and is the last step in the Phase II project.

The city was given $1.1 million in grant funding for the second and third phases with the city having a matching obligation of 20 percent.

With the signal light and parking infrastructure, Phase II should cost about $525,000, Weber said. That leaves the third phase with $575,000 in grant money with some of that going toward the construction of trails along the property, Weber said.

The funding for the first phase of the project, which included 25 parking spaces and the transit building, cost $440,000 and was funded mainly by the city.

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