City offers to nix garage

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— If the Routt County Board of Commissioners decides to build a judicial facility downtown, it would not have to put in a parking garage, according to the City Council.

In a letter given to commissioners Thursday morning, the City Council listed the elimination of the parking garage as one of the steps it is willing to take to convince commissioners to build the courthouse downtown.

The parking garage proposed in the original downtown plan was to be a $3.5 million, 52,000-square-foot, 2 1/2 story structure with 127 parking spaces.

Last month, the council urged the county to reconsider its decision to build the $15 million, 51,200-square-foot judicial facility west of downtown, next to the Routt County Jail.

"We believe that it may well turn out that the downtown site is the best option for cost, traffic, convenience and for preserving the heart of the community," the council's letter read.

City Manager Paul Hughes would not comment on the letter, and City Council President Paul Strong was not available for comment.

The letter stated that Main Street Steamboat Inc. and city staff have proposed adding more parking spaces downtown by converting existing parallel spaces on Oak and Yampa streets to diagonal spaces.

The city also said the city bus has changed its downtown route to add more stops on Lincoln Avenue and to make the Stock Bridge Multi-Modal Center its principal pickup and drop-off point.

The letter also noted the city is looking at providing a dedicated Lincoln shuttle that would provide continuous, reliable service between the Stock Bridge Center and the courthouse.

"It is our opinion that a comprehensive parking and downtown transportation plan consisting of these and other options could provide a new downtown justice center with adequate parking," the letter states.

In the past, commissioners have said they would not build a judicial facility downtown without providing the adequate parking that a parking structure would provide.

"It would be irresponsible on anybody's part (to build) a structure that takes away parking on Sixth Street and not provide parking that meets the code," County Manager Tom Sullivan said.

Commissioners received the letter Thursday and likely will discuss it next week, Sullivan said.

If the commissioners were to change their minds, there is still a lot of work to do on the downtown site, Sullivan said, such as architectural engineering that remains unfinished.

In its letter, the city also said the project architect could work with city staff to determine appropriated design, materials and character for a downtown public building. The letter also stated that if the county were to proceed with the downtown plan, the city has approved the plan already and it could take one to two months to amend that application.

The council also asked that county representatives and city representatives meet one more time to "quietly and seriously" discuss the options for the new judicial facility.


-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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