Yampa Street business owners continue to express concerns about construction impacts
Steamboat Springs — As the start of a major construction project to turn Yampa Street into a more pedestrian-friendly roadway edges closer, several business owners on the street remain concerned about the possible impacts the noise, dust and road closures will have on them.
On Tuesday night, Carl’s Tavern owner Collin Kelley asked the City Council to ensure work does not take place in front of businesses on the street during the busiest summer months.
“I’m begging you guys to not allow work from June 15 to Labor Day,” Kelley said.
Kelley said he makes 42 percent of his profit at his business on Yampa during that time period. He added he was speaking on behalf of several business owners on Yampa Street that include the owners of Aurum, Scratch, Sunpies and Sake2u.
“We’re here because we have skin in the game,” Kelley said.
Jeff LaRoche, owner of E3 Chophouse, urged the city to address limited downtown parking before “ripping up the street and taking parking spaces away.”
The downtown improvement project is expected to eliminate about 17 parking spaces after all the new sidewalks, crosswalks and bike paths are added.
For example, the plan calls for the addition of bike lanes on 11th Street.
To accommodate the bike lanes and new streetscapes, some diagonal parking spaces must be converted to parallel spaces.
The council reacted to both the parking issue and the timing of the construction.
Although the council voted earlier this month not to take city staff’s recommendation to mandate that no work occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day from Sixth to Eighth streets on Yampa, members urged the city to work with the chosen contractor to minimize the impacts.
Councilman Jason Lacy said since that meeting he had talked to business owners on the street to get a better understanding of the negative impact on revenue the work would have.
Councilwoman Heather Sloop suggested that based on the anticipated road closures, she felt work could still occur in a linear fashion on the street without hitting the busiest portion during the peak summer months.
The construction schedule will become more clear when the contractor is chosen in the coming weeks.
On the issue of parking, Council President Walter Magill backed off a bit from an earlier push to test paid parking in certain portions of downtown starting this summer.
He said if the meters are installed, the revenue would initially go to the meter company and not the city to make parking improvements.
As a possible alternative, he suggested having city staff step up parking enforcement and issue more tickets as a way to encourage downtown visitors, and employees, to not overstay their welcome in parking spaces.
“I put out the parking meters, but with this summer, maybe we’ll see how it goes with enforcement,” he said. “My goal is to move the parking around.”
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