Traffic moves through downtown Steamboat Springs. A consultant from Denver told a crowd Tuesday night that while he doesn't think Steamboat has a 'big' parking problem right now, some challenges remain.

Photo by Scott Franz

Traffic moves through downtown Steamboat Springs. A consultant from Denver told a crowd Tuesday night that while he doesn't think Steamboat has a 'big' parking problem right now, some challenges remain.

While some in Steamboat Springs call for downtown parking changes, others don't see a problem

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Past Event

Steamboat Springs City Council meeting

  • Tuesday, June 3, 2014, 5 p.m.
  • Centennial Hall, 124 10th St., Steamboat Springs
  • Not available

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— Ask someone downtown what they think of the parking situation here, and you'll get everything from a head shake to a sigh to a laugh before the answer.

Does Steamboat Springs have a parking problem?

It depends on who you ask, and how far they're willing to walk.

"I haven't found it to be that bad because I walk a lot of the time," Lynn Bear said Monday afternoon as she hurried across Lincoln Avenue to catch a city bus. "We all could use a little more walking."

Brent and Joyce Scott, who have been visiting Steamboat from Salt Lake City for several years, also weren't troubled by the current parking situation.

"If it's busy right here (on Lincoln Avenue), there is ample parking around the corner. We don't even blink," Brent Scott said.

Scott said he found Steamboat's completely free parking system, a rarity among Colorado resort destinations, to be appealing. He said back home in Salt Lake City, new parking meters downtown were pushing people to shop at shopping malls.

Go a few blocks away from where the Scotts were walking around Monday and pop into a downtown store, and the owner there isn't as positive about the current parking situation in downtown Steamboat.

The issue is so charged for some, they don't want to be quoted talking about it.

"What our customers say is they are upset because the buses are taking parking spaces in front of the store, and they can't find a place to park," the store owner, who didn't want to be named, said about downtown parking.

As it is in other cities, parking is an immortal issue here in Steamboat.

Tweaks have been made here and there, but a drastic overhaul has never happened.

Multiple parking studies have been done here throughout decades, and many recommendations, ranging from paid parking to better management of existing spaces, have been made but not acted upon.

On Tuesday, city officials will brief the Steamboat Springs City Council about the ways they are trying to improve parking.

The short-term efforts include new wayfinding signs making it easier for people to find free parking lots off of Lincoln and the conversion of some parking spaces from parallel to diagonal on side streets.

Long-term, the city has hired a consultant to do a fresh parking study and offer recommendations.

On Lincoln Avenue on Monday afternoon, the lack of any major changes to downtown parking was a blessing to some and a disappointment for others.

"The problem is, there's no long-term solution," Moose Mountain Trading Company owner Jenny Wall said as shoppers browsed her store.

She then gestured behind her building to a public parking lot.

"We're sitting on a gold mine back here with a parking lot that could become a multi-level parking lot," she said. "It's the solution waiting to happen."

Several other people who were interviewed downtown also talked about how they would like to see a parking structure, but the idea hasn't gained much traction because of the high cost per space.

Asked what they thought of paid parking, most people interviewed were against the idea, saying it would make downtown less appealing for shopping.

"Every effort has to be made to make it easy for people to come down here," Wall said.

As they headed to lunch downtown, Nancy Merrill and Barbara Hughes said Steamboat does have a parking problem when spaces are hard to come by. But they said it was only a seasonal problem that comes during peak tourist times.

Merrill and Hughes have adapted, though, choosing to park on Oak Street and then walking the few blocks to their destination.

"I come from a big city. We're spoiled here," Merrill said.

Merrill said she is most supportive of better utilization of existing parking lots like the one at Howelsen Hill over any other major change to the parking system.

Across the street at Fuzziwig's Candy Factory, manager Audrey Zwak said parking hasn't been too much of an issue for her customers because the candy store is on a corner with parking available on side streets.

But she said she regularly gets texts from her employees who run late to work in the afternoon because they have a hard time finding a parking space.

"Then they run around moving their cars during the day," she said.

Zwak said her employees park on side streets.

The current Steamboat City Council appears more resolved than ever to make some changes to downtown parking to try and improve it.

Residents should have ample opportunities to weigh in during the latest parking study that will include public outreach sessions.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

Comments

Scott Wedel 6 months, 2 weeks ago

But she said she regularly gets texts from her employees who run late to work in the afternoon because they have a hard time finding a parking space.

"Then they run around moving their cars during the day," she said.


Well, right there is the parking problem. Employees parking in hourly parking spots that are supposed to be reserved for customers. The store policy should be that employees do not park in short term parking and that employees will not be given breaks to move their cars between short term parking.

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Jim Kelley 6 months, 2 weeks ago

..."The problem is there is no long term solution." Jenny Wall, Moose Mountain

What exactly is the problem needing solution for these merchants?

..That there is a lack of parking in the "gold mine" behind her store? ---There is always parking available back there. ..Another merchant states that their customers can't park in front of the store. Is there any place with a thriving merchant economy where such parking is available readily, directly in front of the store. (Except Oak Creek, of course!) ..The inference that the city should "fix" the parking "problem" so that texting employees won't be so challenged as to both figure out their parking/transportation situation and actually make it to work on time? Local and visiting customers in this article then go on to state: -"If it's busy right here on Lincoln Ave, there is ample parking right around the corner" -After parking on Oak and walking one block, "I come from the big city, we're spoiled here" -"I haven't found it to be that bad because I walk a lot of the time" Are we seeking a solution in search of a problem?

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Peter Arnold 6 months, 2 weeks ago

There is an interesting paid parking system in Aspen I had the pleasure of using on a road trip last week. You park anywhere there is available space and nearby are pay stations. It is an interesting system whereby you swipe your cc or deposit cash to have a ticket printed out which is then placed on your dash for enforcement officers to see. How many of you out there have been down near Carl's around dinner time, even now in off season, and were challenged to find a space? While some might not like the idea of paying for parking, prime parking spaces might be a consideration. Having experienced the nightmare of parking in a college town back in the Midwest, we have it easy in Steamboat. I once had a friend tell me that locals don't tip and live for the freebie. Well, if that be the case and merchants want the paying customer to park in front of their business on Main, Yampa, or Oak, then it might be time to take a hard look at what Aspen has for a revenue generating parking system in their commercial areas. Cue the hate mail and negative comments...

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