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After 70 years of downtown parking debates and studies, Steamboat residents sound off on social media

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— A Steamboat Springs City Councilman’s recent pitch for cheaper downtown parking solutions across the Yampa River is being met on social media with calls for bigger, bolder, more expensive solutions.

Eighth Street Steakhouse General Manager Joel Mccomiskey posted that he thinks a centralized parking structure is “the only solution.”

Some were also skeptical that improvements to a satellite parking lot would spur people to park farther away.

A downtown parking garage has generally been the most popular suggestion from residents who think parking changes need to happen.

But how feasible is it?

The city’s most recent downtown parking study, conducted in 2014, threw some cold water on the idea.

Consultants estimated that putting a four-level, 162-space parking structure at the city's existing surface lot at Eighth and Oak Streets would cost $4.6 million.

Each parking space would cost $28,935 to build.

The consultants ultimately labeled the city’s existing parking lot on Oak as not ideal for a garage.

The study did, however, suggest two future parcels they thought would be more conducive to parking garages that could be incorporated into a mixed-use development.

They include the city’s current downtown police station site on Yampa and the surface parking lot at 10th and Yampa streets, formerly owned by Yampa Valley Electric Association.

Real estate development firm Blue Sage Ventures currently owns the 46-space lot next to the old YVEA headquarters and is redeveloping the space.

The company is currently leasing the surface lot to the city for public parking.

Asked Friday what vision he has for the parking lot, Blue Sage Ventures Principal Stephen Shelesky said he thinks it would be an ideal spot for a hotel.

He floated the idea of having the city invest in a public parking garage below the development.

On social media, other residents are sharing a wide range of opinions about the overall downtown parking situation.

Lisa Barbour expressed skepticism about a parking garage and instead proposed a campaign that pushes biking, walking and bus riding as alternatives.

Chris Thomas was more blunt in his response to Magill's idea.

He is urging the city to “build a damn garage or two ...”

Steamboat’s downtown parking system has been discussed, debated and studied for more than 70 years, and, for the most part, it hasn’t drastically changed since meters were ripped out of the ground on Lincoln Avenue following an unpopular test run in the early 1950s.

Some residents are adamant in their belief that there is a parking problem.

But others, including some current elected officials, don’t see it that way and don’t think there’s any urgent need to make changes.

The latest actions taken by city council members have focused on such low-cost solutions as restriping parking spaces more efficiently to add spaces.

Elected officials have narrowly rejected proposals to reintroduce parking meters or use new technology, such as license plate readers, to beef up enforcement.

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

Comments

Scott Wedel 2 weeks, 4 days ago

Well, city government isn't to pay for it and I strongly doubt the taxpayers would agree to increase taxes to pay for it.

If downtown property owners want it so badly that they are willing to form a business improvement district and tax themselves for it then go for it.

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