Steamboat parking, paving input sought

Meetings this week seek feeback from public about projects

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If you go

What: Public meeting about proposals for downtown parking regulations

When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Steamboat Springs Community Center, west of downtown on U.S. Highway 40

Contact: Call City Hall at 970-879-2060 for more information.

What: Public meeting about spring re-paving project on U.S. Highway 40 through downtown Steamboat Springs

When: 5:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

Contact: E-mail Jody Patten at jody@pattencom.com for more information.

— A city official said this spring’s U.S. Highway 40 re-paving project is scheduled to start April 5 at 13th Street, then move east through downtown on the south side of the street.

Steamboat Springs Public Works Director Philo Shelton said Sunday that after work is completed on the south side of U.S. 40 — known as Lincoln Avenue through downtown Steamboat Springs — construction crews will move back to 13th Street and work their way east on the north side of the street, hopefully completing the entire project by the target date of June 30.

Downtown businesses are bracing for the Colorado De­­part­ment of Transportation’s massive re-paving project by Scott Contracting. Work on Lincoln Avenue began in the fall and will resume during a shoulder season that’s already challenging for businesses struggling through the economic recession. Business owners also have been talking about downtown parking issues, which the Steamboat Springs City Council is scheduled to next address April 6.

Public meetings about downtown parking and paving are Tuesday at the Steamboat Springs Community Center and Thursday at Centennial Hall.

City staff and a local parking committee presented proposed revisions to downtown parking regulations earlier this month to Steamboat Springs City Council. The proposed revisions included changing streetside parking on Lincoln Avenue to three-hour zones rather than two-hour zones, making most downtown parking lots eight-hour zones and increasing fines for violations citywide. The intent was to provide shoppers with more time to park downtown while providing downtown employees’ with all-day lots they could use instead of parking in front of businesses on Lincoln Avenue.

Several downtown business owners opposed the changes, however, saying they would simply keep employees parked in front of businesses longer and not created the intended result. City Council directed city staff and the parking committee to acquire more public input and return with a new proposal.

Tracy Barnett, of Mainstreet Steamboat Springs, said a compromise currently on the table would keep the two-hour zones on Lincoln Avenue but change side streets, Yampa Avenue and possibly Oak Street parking to three-hour zones, with a mix of zones in downtown parking lots.

She said creating a solution that pleases business owners, employees, city staff and downtown shoppers is proving to be a tough task.

“The thing that’s difficult about all that is if you have two hours here and three hours there, and eight hours somewhere else, it’s difficult to patrol and enforce it,” Barnett said.

She said Tuesday’s meeting is a chance for members of the public to comment about what they feel are appropriate changes to city parking zones and fines.

“I’m hoping that it will involve the entire community,” Barnett said about the meeting. “The conversation has been almost entirely with the downtown business owners, but we have to hear from the public, as well.”

Public involvement also is needed at Thursday’s meeting, which will address plans and phasing for the re-paving project this spring.

Jody Patten, U.S. Highway 40 project information manager for Scott Contracting, said anyone who wants daily e-mail updates on the project once work resumes can sign up by e-mailing jody@pattencom.com. An information hotline at 970-819-7008 “will be updated every single day after the start of construction,” she said.

Patten said the warm, dry spring has presented a good outlook for the re-paving work.

“We need to get this project started as soon as possible weather-wise, because we need to finish by June 30 — that’s in the best interest of everyone,” she said. “Right now, we’re very happy to see the kind of weather we’ve been having, because it means we can get in there and get busy.”

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