Our View: Parking problems aren't going away

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Editorial Board, May 2008 to August 2008

  • Bryna Larsen, publisher
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Mike Lawrence, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Eric Morris, community representative
  • Paul Draper, community representative

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— Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. officials say the parking mess of Jan. 12 was an anomaly rather than a precursor. While that may be the case in the context of the 2007-08 ski season, all signs point to a continued increase in skier traffic in the coming years - and the necessity for comprehensive base area parking plans sooner rather than later.

The ski area's two free parking lots - the upper Knoll lot and the Meadows lot adjacent to the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs - filled to capacity two Saturdays ago, forcing Ski Corp. to enact a makeshift plan of ferrying skiers and riders from Central Park Plaza. While the loss of about 150 parking spaces in the Knoll lot because of the presence of a temporary concert tent certainly played a part, Ski Corp. officials said it wasn't the biggest factor. Andy Wirth, vice president of marketing for Ski Corp. and Intrawest, said a substantial amount of overflow parking was lost when former ski area operator American Skiing Co. sold land to the developers of Wildhorse Meadows.

Regardless, most casual observers have noticed the availability of skier parking becoming an increasing problem this season. And it's not likely to get any better in the near future.

We could be just one or two seasons away from overflow parking on a daily basis during the ski season, a dilemma that demands immediate attention.

Wirth says the ski area has been pursuing a number of short-term and long-term parking options. He also stressed the issue is bigger than Ski Corp.

"We have seen this coming," Wirth said Friday. "Addressing this issue has to incorporate who are the users of the lots, what are their final destinations and what is the occupancy of their vehicles."

Wirth's comments point to Ski Corp.'s assertion that parking must be addressed by multiple stakeholders. He's right, to an extent.

Too many skiers and riders, primarily locals, drive themselves - and only themselves - to the ski area. Changing the transportation habits of local skiers will be difficult and likely will necessitate increased public transportation. But we're wary of Ski Corp. planting the seed for increased public funding to help solve the impact of their private enterprise.

What will really change the habits of locals is paid parking, and that's a likely scenario when the discussion moves to long-term solutions. And whether or not Ski Corp. likes it, the reality is the vast majority of people who seek parking at the base area are skiers and riders, not retail shoppers. It is Ski Corp.'s responsibility to provide adequate parking for its customers.

Wirth and others are floating several long-term solutions, including a tiered parking garage at the Meadows site and a partnership with Wildhorse Meadows developers for a high-capacity, people-mover gondola.

While the former comes as no surprise, the latter does. Ski Corp. officials previously have been hesitant to embrace the idea of partnering on a gondola from the development to the base of the ski area. Perhaps such a public stance was a negotiating ploy, but Ski Corp. sang a different tune this week, when officials confirmed they are discussing a high-capacity gondola that could transport as many as 3,000 skiers an hour.

It's a sound idea, but we're concerned the problem will reach critical levels before such long-term solutions are approved, funded and completed. Wirth said the ski area will seek to add 300 spots to the Meadows lot for the 2008-09 season. We hope that will be sufficient for the next couple of years. With so many positive development projects ongoing throughout the downtown and mountain areas, failure to immediately begin work on enacting long-term parking and mobility solutions would be a significant misstep.

Comments

elkeye 6 years, 2 months ago

"Wirth says the ski area has been pursuing a number of short-term and long-term parking options. He also stressed the issue is bigger than Ski Corp."

The parking problem is Ski Corp's and until Ski Corp. resolves its parking problem, the City should not allow the presence of a temporary concert tent on any parking lot at (or near) the base area.

The idea of public funding to help solve the impact of Ski Corp.'s private enterprise should be rejected.

As you correctly stated: "It is Ski Corp.'s responsibility to provide adequate parking for its customers."

It is also Ski Corp.'s responsibility to transport its customers from its parking lots (or any future tiered parking structure) to the base of the mountain. If Ski Corp. wants a high-capacity gondola from the Meadows parking, Ski Corp. should pay for it.

If Wirth and others are trolling for pubic funds (including any URA funds) to pay for any portion of Ski Corp.'s responsibility to take care of the parking needs of its customers, the answer should be NO!

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ModernMiner 6 years, 2 months ago

What would be wrong with constructing a multi level parking garage where the meadows lot is? They may even be able to construct it so that the garage takes up much less land area than the current parking lot. Who knows -unpave a parking lot and put up a paradise?

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STEMBOATwannabe 6 years, 2 months ago

Elkeye you are right on the money. Your comment was well thought out and quite fair. Thank you!

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prayforsnow 6 years, 2 months ago

How much are they going to raise season and daily passes for these "solutions" to the parking problems?

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letomayo 6 years, 2 months ago

Wirth is the same person who was at ski corp when it was bought a couple of times. Have things got better? Maybe he should help ski corp learn that it is there business and they will lose customers if turists have to pay more just to park here. Can't he and the rest of that corp think of ways to deal with parking in the future? Cost is cheaper now than it will be next year. Free parking is a necessary thing for success of Steamboat or maybe he doesn't think so. Don't build a lot for free parking and maybe they won't come.

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STEMBOATwannabe 6 years, 2 months ago

If they built FREE parking lots with shuttle service away from the mountain . Then charged a fee for parking near the base. The income from the people who pay to be near the base would ( hopefully) be enough to contribute to the cost for the shuttle from the FREE parking. Enough people are cheap and would take the Free Shuttle from the Free Parking area!!!

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bartender 6 years, 2 months ago

The problem arose because of all the lost parking and spaces thanks to ASC's ownership. The lot where the Chadwick disgrace sits, the base area lot (where the tent use to go), and the overflow lot that would fill to capacity on a regular basis adjacent to the meadows lot (now under construction of Wildhorse). That is a lot of space to lose in a period of one season (except for the Chadwick). Then factor in all the construction workers from all the sites around the base area and central park that take advantage of the free parking. I know I have seen plenty of hard hats getting out of cars and into other vehicles. It's compounded exponentially this season. People wanted "More 'boat; less otten" then. Well, less 'boat parking is his legacy. I don't think the local management wanted to sell all that valuable space off to payoff monolithic debt of ASC. But Less Otten was a desperate man. I am sure if you would ask anyone that works there, easy customer access is important. I forgot my fleece one day, and had to park in the meadows just to pick it up. 45 mins just to park and go get one item from lost and found. But what can the local guys do? I am sure they are affected just as much as everyone else. If only having to listen to every little gripe from every side.

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elk2 6 years, 2 months ago

Went to pick my child up from Trailbusters a couple weeks ago. Couldn't find any parking ,so I was late getting to her. She went to what used to be a parking lot and no Mom or Dad. Our fault for not being there on time. Took us 40 minutes to find her. All she knew was that she was under a crane. Which crane. There are only about 100 of them around. Her instructor did not stay with her and she was left to roam. It could have turned out badly. Thank goodness for cell phones.

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another_local 6 years, 2 months ago

It is BS to say that the city should not participate in the solution to parking issues or that URA funds should be off limits. Public money has always supported economic drivers for the simple reason that it pays to do so. Why does the federal gov't support railways or build roads through forests or construct interstate highways and build locks and damns? Do you think it is all for people on vacation?

One of the principle economic drivers of this community is tourism. Providing public infrastructure for that industry pays off for all of us. Bike paths, free busses, parking, landscaping, signs, snow plowing etc all support the general effort as does building roads to new development. The payback is tax revenue. Those revenues have nearly tripled in the last 15 years so it is working.

On the other hand, requiring adequate parking in development plans is a role that the city can and should play. That includes examining the issue when an entity sells off property that has been used for its parking as was done in the meadows.

I agree that a multi level parking structure in the meadows is a good idea. So is a gondola connecting to the base of the mountain. As for who pays for it, there is already an agreement between ski corps and wildhorse as to sharing that expense. I have not heard of ANY public money going toward that plan.

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BoatMaster 6 years, 2 months ago

I vote to keep the concert tents where they are. The concerts help make Steamobat what it is. Those shows bring in lots of visitors. Did you see the crowds?

The locals also need a deal for parking. The parking Kielbasa mentioned is a idea but the busses are so packed this year it is very difficult to get back to that lot after a long day of skiing.

There needs to be a remote lot with LOTS of shuttles going there.

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 2 months ago

There's a big, empty parking lot just a few yards west of Dream Island that only gets used for Art in the Park. The SST even stops there. Wonder if anyone thought of parking there?

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another_local 6 years, 2 months ago

That big parking lot should be required for construction workers on downtown projects. They can ride the bus from there or the contractors can provide vans. I know that does not help the mountain situation but it would help downtown.

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 2 months ago

Construction workers carry a bunch of their own (owned) tools. Might not be as practical to take them on a bus. I'm pretty sure that you could eliminate more cars by having skiers take the bus from the there, than construction workers loading all their tools & selves onto a bus. Contractors providing vans would only mean a van full of 2 workers and tools instead of a pick-up with 2 people and tools. Same difference.

Either that, or turn off the light and tell people Steamboat's full.

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elk2 6 years, 2 months ago

As usual, the parking problem is caused by "the locals"Where would the ski area be without the support of the local? Andy,we are not the Problem!!!! How about some appreciation shown.

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mtroach 6 years, 2 months ago

Look at the cars going into the lot on a powder day, one person per car. Charge for cars that have two or less passengers,(Aspen model) and that will encourage carpooling, or bus riding. Put a coffie shop into the transportation center so that incomming workers have a reason to stop, and change into bus riders.

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another_local 6 years, 2 months ago

Not the same difference at all. The construction workers truck is parked all day, the van would turn around and go get more people.

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dave reynolds 6 years, 2 months ago

Bartender..your right we can thank our mounting problems to ASC and Les OUTTA BE FORGOTTEN..its sad a banner snow year yet when people come no where to park..yet more developement on the way..hummm

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 2 months ago

another_local- Good point. I wasn't looking at it that way, but you'd still have to then secure each person's individual tools somewhere. A good set of tools is a commodity, and I think that's why most bring their truck to secure them in.

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justathought 6 years, 2 months ago

To ask construction workers to unload their trucks into a van, then off the van on the job, then reverse the process in the evening is crazy. How many will need extra trips to the parking lot for something they left on their truck thinking they wouldn't need it? Evidently another_local and Matt haven't taken a good look in a construction workers vehicle lately. However, there are some that do not provide their own tools/materials, they are the ones that need to park on the outskirts of town or ride with a co-worker, but by choice (being asked), not a mandate. Quit looking to inconvenience the locals/workers (trying to make a living) for every solution.

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STEMBOATwannabe 6 years, 2 months ago

Ther could be some sort of punch card used when parking in a remote area and using the shuttle system. How about 5 punches you get a free cup of coffee ( or something like it) From the mountain or downtown. The Chamber of Commerce could somehow back this up as a way to get more business in the downtown area.

I don't think I quite got the clearness of this idea worked out... but I hope you get my drift.....

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another_local 6 years, 2 months ago

justa, I am local trying to make a living too. Quit trying to provide a minor convenience for one group of employees at the expense of the livlihood of hundreds of others. Park those trucks outside of downtown! (and leave that dog at home)

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BoatMaster 6 years, 2 months ago

Leave that dog at home??

What are you nuts? Ski Dogs are great!!!

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