Across Steamboat Springs this week, doctors have been treating neck injuries suffered by readers of the Steamboat Today. Having read on Tuesday that the Steamboat Springs City Council would meet that evening to start discussions on “improving” downtown parking, readers suffered whiplash when they read on Wednesday that the council will vote on June 17 whether to remove upwards of 33 parking spots from Yampa Street — as proposed by council member Kenny Reisman.
Rob Douglas' column appears Fridays in the Steamboat Today. He can be reached at rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.
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While it’s tempting to question whether some council members are employing Common Core to convince themselves that subtraction results in addition when it comes to parking, the reality is that a faction of the council believes they need to summon the “courage” to “kick-start” “change.”
But let’s save for another day the discussion of why some other council members believe it’s their job to kick-start change — hint: it’s about a lack of tax dollars to fund Steamboat’s unquenchable thirst for capital projects — and instead examine what’s driving Reisman’s desire to immediately strip a portion of parking from Yampa Street.
Based on his pronouncement at Tuesday’s meeting, it’s not just “public safety” that’s motivating Reisman. Evidently, some Yampa Street restaurateurs don’t meet Reisman’s lofty standards and he wants them publicly shamed.
For context, the next five paragraphs contain almost the entirety of Reisman’s presentation about Yampa Street parking at Tuesday’s meeting:
“Here’s how I’d like to kick-start a change is that we eliminate parking from Sixth Street to Ninth Street on Yampa on the south side of the street. So we’re talking the river side of the street. And we have a meeting on this in two weeks here in council to vote on this so people can engage in conversation in the next two weeks. And we make this happen.
“Here’s what happens if you do that. We lose about 33 parking spots in all likelihood. Somewhere between 33 to 40 parking spots depending on the footage that we use. What you also then get is, you get anyone coming from Howelsen over the bridge on 10th Street can then connect through that parking lot which is now, you have the Backdoor (Sports) parking lot, on to the south side of the street and have space, because there’s no parking to roam freely — this is bikes, and families, and older people, and younger people, and everyone — to walk that south side of the street down to Sixth where they then can connect to the city sidewalk that borders the parking spots by the river. You then have linked it completely back over to Howelsen and the bike path. So what you’ve created is a completely safe experience for everyone in this community regardless of age to get engaged in downtown.”
After discussing exceptions for deliveries, Reisman continued.
“It’s a change. And I think it’s one that will dramatically improve the experience of everyone in this community who lives here or visits without spending barely a nickel in doing it.
“And then what you’ll find is, you’ll wander down cause there’ll be no cars parked down there on that side, and you’ll stumble onto E3 (the new steakhouse where Cottonwood Grill was located) and you’ll finally be able to notice the beautiful gardens that they’ve created and the sidewalk they’ve put in. And then you’ll see other restaurants who might not have done that and you’ll start to have a conversation and say, ‘Hey, can you clean up a little bit cause we don’t like the experience now that we can see it.’ And I think it’s a great way to kick-start it.”
As an elected official, Reisman believes the city should use its regulatory authority over public parking as a means of “kick-starting” public ridicule of privately owned businesses that don’t meet his subjective aesthetics — even though those businesses are in compliance with the law.
Reisman’s ham-fisted ploy is so wrongheaded it calls into question what other ulterior designs he has for Yampa Street and what steps he’s willing to advocate as a means of picking winners and losers among business owners.
One thing is certain. If you’re not one of the businesses that satisfies Reisman’s vision, you better get involved before he decides to kick-start you.
To reach Rob Douglas, email rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @RobDouglas3