Steamboat City Council approves $50,000 for Yampa Street safety, parking improvements
June 17, 2014
Steamboat Springs — Kenny Reisman’s proposal to eliminate 30 to 40 parking spaces on Yampa Street to make it more pedestrian friendly was rejected narrowly Tuesday night in Centennial Hall.
But the Steamboat Springs City Council member didn’t leave the meeting without bringing change to Yampa Street.
He and his fellow council members voted to have the city spend $50,000 in the coming weeks to make the street safer for pedestrians and also make the parking situation more efficient.
Some of the ideas council suggested to city staff included painting parking spaces on Yampa that currently are unmarked from Sixth to Ninth streets, adding temporary curbs to create a more defined parking area and looking into better lighting for the street.
The city will use its discretion when deciding how to spend the money.
City staff also is moving ahead with a plan to soon extend the parking enforcement hours on the street and adjacent lots to 10 p.m., a move that would discourage downtown employees from leaving their cars parked there during busy dinner hours.
Parking enforcement on the street previously ended at 6 p.m.
Council member Sonja Macys voted against the $50,000 budget for Yampa improvements.
She said she was for improving safety on the street, but she was uncomfortable with the spending proposal coming from the council outside the regular budget discussions.
Reisman’s idea to remove parking spaces to increase safety on the street and enhance the pedestrian experience spurred a lengthy conversation about Yampa and its current issues.
Reisman was joined in his efforts to remove the spaces by council President Bart Kounovsky and member Scott Myller.
Kounovsky said the city’s conversion of reverse-angle parking spaces had added enough spaces to make up for the loss of the ones Reisman was proposing.
"We just added 30 spots to our parking inventory. We’d be in the exact same spot we were a year ago today. I like the idea of cleaning up the riverside of Yampa Street," Kounovsky said.
Myller said the move could encourage more people to bike downtown.
He added that those who continue to drive there would find places elsewhere downtown or start parking farther down the street near Little Toots Park.
Reisman’s fellow council members and even some of the many downtown business owners who spoke in opposition to the plan thanked Reisman for bringing up the issue.
"I’m good with wherever this conversation goes, so long as it goes toward safety and it goes there now," Reisman said.
He said he didn’t want to wait another summer to make changes to the street while families who feared for their safety continued to bike and walk there.
Several business owners shared Reisman’s concerns about safety on the street but opposed the idea of removing spaces.
They said it would hurt business by driving people away from an area that already is tight on parking.
Some Yampa Street business owners told the council they were starting to talk about implementing valet parking on the street as a way to improve the parking situation.
Planning Director Tyler Gibbs said the street’s biggest problem right now is that there are entire sections that lack any sort of curb and gutter.
He said it creates situations in which pedestrians don’t know when they’ve actually gone onto the street and cars can’t tell where the proper place to park is.
The problem is amplified in the winter when snowbanks and the cars parked next to them push pedestrians into the street, Gibbs said.
City officials said their decision to lower the speed limit and roll out speed bumps has slowed down traffic and made the street safer.