Steamboat Springs City Council resolved to try and improve downtown parking
May 20, 2014
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs City Council appears more resolved than ever to make some changes to improve the downtown parking system.
One council member Tuesday night said the city should remove all the parking spots on Yampa Street to enhance the pedestrian experience and create a "game changer."
The conversation grew out of a discussion about the possibility of converting a public parking lot on Yampa into a riverside park using lodging tax money.
Council members weighed in on whether the city could afford to lose the 21 parking spots.
"I'm ready to pull those parking spaces," council member Kenny Reisman said. "We've been foolish with our parking plans. I think we've said 'no' as a community to everything that's been thrown out there because we've been stubborn to change. I think whether it's paid parking or eliminating parking on Yampa altogether — which to me is, quite frankly, a no-brainer in this community — it would revitalize that street the moment we did it."
He said removing parking from Yampa would take guts from the community and the council, but "my goodness, would we look back and say, 'That was a game changer there.'
Reisman pointed out there is an underutilized parking lot across the Yampa River at Howelsen Hill that is minutes away.
As he recalled a recent trip he took to Boulder, he said though he had to park a few blocks away from the popular Pearl Street pedestrian mall, "you don't think twice about it because the place you're going to is phenomenal."
Reisman was joined in his call to address downtown parking by Council President Bart Kounovsky and members Walter Magill and Sonja Macys.
"Parking is not going to get any better downtown at all, and it's going to be an issue that will affect everyone down there," Kounovsky said after he mentioned all of the revitalization efforts that are possible for downtown, including the redevelopment of the Yampa Valley Electric Association headquarters on Yampa Street.
He suggested it might be time to form a task force or seek out some public comment on possible changes to improve the parking system.
Magill said the city needed to better identify its current public parking places and use lots such as the one at Howelsen and the rodeo grounds.
"We have to look forward and envision that if we open up the park and we get the downtown we want revitalized, where are we going to park people?" Magill asked.
Tony Connell said the city should look into leased parking and what could be offered off-site.
Residents and visitors this summer will start to see some subtle changes to the city's parking system.
The city recently ordered some directional signs to help steer people off Lincoln Avenue and into public lots like the ones at Howelsen Hill and 10th Street.
It will be followed by wayfinding signage showing people their parking location in relation to the attractions downtown.
The city also is working to select a consultant to conduct a citywide parking study and make recommendations.
The council is expected to get another update on parking plans when it meets June 3.