Parking, sidewalks weighed

Nordic Lodge expansion reviewed

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— If City Council agrees with Planning Commission in regards to a proposed expansion o the Nordic Lodge, the debate over whether the downtown area needs more parking or more sidewalks may tilt toward parking.

The owners of the lodge on 11th Street and Lincoln Avenue are hoping to remodel their motel, adding retail space, office space, employee housing and a possible coffee shop to the 39-room business.

"If we get this project approved, the look of the Nordic Lodge is going to improve tremendously. The outside renovation and additional retail and cafe will draw more tourists and locals to the west side of downtown," Izabela Banas said.

City Planner Tracey Hughes recommended that the lodge should have to build a sidewalk along 11th Street and enter into a local improvement district with other Oak Street businesses to build another sidewalk on Oak Street. The owners may also have to pay for the construction of bridges over Soda Creek on 11th and Oak streets, though the bridge on Oak Street would be part of the improvement district.

A conflict arises because the addition of a sidewalk would necessitate parallel parking on a street that currently has diagonal parking. The change in orientation would cause eight spaces to be eliminated and would cause the applicants to incur tens of thousands of dollars in construction costs. The applicants estimate the actual cost of all the sidewalk and bridge improvements at about $158,000.

Discussion at the Planning Commission level brought up a conflict in the city's Mobility and Circulation Plan and its Mountain Town Sub-Area Plan, which are often referenced when questions about sidewalks and parking are brought up.

The mountain plan calls for no net loss in parking downtown yet throughout the plan it recommends an increase in pedestrian access, calling at times for sidewalks.

As Planning Commissioner Kathi Meyer said, the applicants would have had to pay for parking if they asked for a permit and didn't have enough parking spaces. Now the city is asking for it to take away parking and pay for a sidewalk a distinction she felt sends a mixed message.

Hughes said she doesn't see the conflict in this particular decision, because she feels as though the city will be able to regain parking as the downtown area is redeveloped. The parking issue needs to be looked at from a broader perspective, analyzing how the city can maintain parking in the long term while increasing pedestrianization, she said. She added that the city has investigated the number of nearby parking spaces and found there to be 609 non-reserved spaces in the vicinity.

Two local business owners from across 11th Street Don Silva, the owner of the Old West Steakhouse and Kelly Landers of the Creekside Cafe said they depend on the parking on the opposite side for their businesses and hope that parking can be retained.

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