Several Yampa Street business owners oppose removal of parking spaces | SteamboatToday.com

Several Yampa Street business owners oppose removal of parking spaces

A cyclist rides around two parked delivery trucks and parked cars Monday afternoon on Yampa Street. Several business owners on the street are opposed to removing parking spaces in the area to make it more pedestrian friendly.

If you go

•Steamboat Springs City Council meeting

• When: 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 17, 2014

• Where: Citizen’s Hall, 124 10th Street

If you go

•Steamboat Springs City Council meeting

• When: 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 17, 2014

• Where: Citizen’s Hall, 124 10th Street

— Brock Webster would love to see fewer and fewer cars on Yampa Street along with a transition to a more pedestrian-oriented corridor.

But like many other business owners nearby, the bike store owner doesn’t think now is the time to eliminate 30 to 40 parking spaces on the street to start making that happen.

"If you do that, then there has to be a parking garage. Where are those people going to go?," Webster asked Monday from Orange Peel Bicycle Services on Yampa. "Heck ya, I’d love to see less cars on Yampa Street. But we’re not ready for it yet. There’s infrastructure that’s needed."

The Steamboat City Council on Tuesday night will vote on a proposal introduced by member Kenny Reisman to remove 30 to 40 parking spots on the riverside portion of Yampa where it runs from Sixth Street to Ninth Street.

Reisman believes removing the spots would help to revitalize the street and make it safer for the many bikers and pedestrians who frequent the area.

A Colorado Department of Transportation bike counter on the street detected 21,598 bike trips on Yampa in July of 2013.

On Monday, several business owners on Yampa said while they share Reisman’s desire to make the street safer and more appealing to pedestrians, they don’t want to see the spaces removed on their street.

Many feared the move would cause more people to avoid the area and spend their money elsewhere.

"Taking away parking spaces is going to make it harder for people to come eat at my restaurant," Sake2U co-owner Eric Delaney said. "If we’re going to get spots taken away, something else has to be done."

Delaney said parking already is so tight around his restaurant the owners are making employees park across the Yampa River at Howelsen Hill.

Delaney’s call for a parking alternative before spots are removed for pedestrians was echoed by many other business owners who would be most impacted by the removal of the spots on his end of the street.

"I’m not sure removing all the parking spots is the answer," Sunpie’s Bistro co-owner Jarrett Duty said. "I’d like to have more conversation and get more input from business owners before a decision is made."

Jeff LaRroche, one of the owners of E3 Chophouse, called the possible removal of spots a "knee-jerk reaction."

"I’m all for making this street pedestrian friendly, but (removing parking spaces) is going to hurt business across the board," he said.

He said it would help for the city to better identify existing parking spaces and look at other improvements such as lighting.

Backdoor Sports owner Pete Van De Carr had a different take on the parking proposal.

"I like the idea. I think it’s great," he said. "I would love for Yampa to be more pedestrian and bike friendly, and right now, it is not, especially in the winter. I guess (removing parking spaces) is the most effective way to do it."

Sweet Pea Market and Restaurant owner Katherine Zambrana said she needed to learn more about Reisman’s proposal and figure out what the pros and cons would be before she could offer an opinion.

Down the street at Aurum Food and Wine, owner Phil Armstrong said he’d like to see other options explored.

“Enforcing the speed limit down here is step number one. Putting the speed bumps in is a good start,” he said. “It’s a super dangerous area for families to be walking. I just don’t believe removing parking from one side of the street is the solution.”

The council’s discussion about parking spaces on Yampa comes as the city is already taking other steps to increase pedestrian safety on the road.

Several speed bumps were just added to the road, and crosswalks were repainted.

Last year, the speed limit was lowered to 15 miles per hour and reverse-angle parking was introduced to sections of the street. The latter move increased the inventory of parking in the area by 18 spaces, according to city staff, who have compiled a list of pros and cons they felt would come from Reisman’s proposal.

Their pros include more freedom to walk and bike along a busy street, better views of the river, the creation of a walking space between Sixth and Seventh streets that currently lacks a sidewalk and creation of a better area for children to bike.

Staff also wrote the decision could easily be reversed if response is negative.

City staff’s list of cons includes the $3,000 cost of striping and signage, a loss of buffer space between the sidewalk and roadway and the loss of 30 to 40 parking spaces.

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