Glenwood Springs could start enforcing downtown parking regulations, exploring paid parking options
City Council directed city staff to work with boards, commissions on parking plan
Glenwood Springs moved a step closer to creating a parking enforcement plan for the downtown core Thursday, with the potential for future paid parking in some areas.
During the City Council’s regular meeting, City Engineer Terri Partch presented council with two parking options based on public feedback from listening sessions in 2021 and guidance provided by council members in previous work sessions.
The first option focuses on enforcing the city’s current parking regulations, hiring additional enforcement personnel and purchasing equipment, such as license plate readers and parking management software, to help enforce parking regulations.
The second option includes all of the above and adds the potential for a paid parking plan, which could be implemented from Seventh Street to Ninth Street as well as in off-street parking lots and the parking garage.
Partch told council members city staff was not yet seeking a decision on which option to pursue. But rather, she said, they needed direction on whether to continue drawing up parking plans for future implementation.
Cost estimates for either option were unavailable as of Thursday, but both are expected to increase the city’s budget.
“What we really want is the council’s direction to move forward with a request for proposal, asking for a parking management company to give cost estimates on the two options,” Partch said. “Even enforcing our existing regulations would mean we would have to come back to you with an estimated cost to move forward.”
Glenwood Springs residents and business owners expressed mixed feelings about the options presented to council.
Bob Littler, who’s owned an engineering business downtown for 23 years, said parking needs to be addressed, but it should be approached with everyone in mind, not just retailers.
“The parking issue is a major issue for downtown retailers and restaurant operators,” Littler said. “More enforcement is needed, and if that means installing parking meters, then so be it.”
Office workers who have to park downtown, however, are often treated as second-class citizens, he said. Installing parking fees in off-street parking locations such as the parking garage seems unduly punitive. Instead, Littler encouraged council to drive traffic into off-street parking by keeping it free.
Former council member Dave Merritt said downtown parking has been an issue for as long as he can remember, but creating a paid parking plan based on residents ability to use public transit, bicycles or walk to work was unrealistic.
“I bike when I can; however, much of the year, it’s not really possible,” Merritt said. “This is ill-timed, and I don’t think it’s been vetted with the businesses.”
Although supportive of creating a parking plan, Glenwood Adventure Co. owner Ken Murphy said charging his employees to park in off-street locations wouldn’t solve the issues at hand. Instead, he said the city should encourage more people to use the city’s off-street parking options downtown and consider making the parking plan seasonal.
“We don’t need paid parking at this time of the year,” Murphy said. “We only need it at certain times of the year.”
Council Member Tony Hershey said parking could be addressed in the future, but he agreed with Merritt about trying to put something together now.
“I don’t understand why we’re imposing another obligation on the citizens of this community that have already undergone so much,” Hershey said. “I think this is a terrible idea, and I don’t support it at all.”
Although council member Ingrid Wussow did not take Hershey’s hardline stance against moving forward with a parking plan, she said she’d like the city to approach the idea slowly.
“At some point in time, there will be paid parking in the downtown core,” Wussow said. “But I don’t think right now is the time.”
Multiple council members expressed a desire to see city staff present estimated costs before making a final decision, but council member Steve Davis said he would like staff to move forward immediately.
“I think, No. 1, we need to enforce the parking regulations we have — we should do that tomorrow,” Davis said. “Anything we can do to move this forward is really important for our businesses. To table this and do nothing is absolutely irresponsible for downtown businesses.”
Council member Shelley Kaup motioned for staff to pursue Partch’s first option and explore costs of the second option with input from local businesses and the city’s boards and commissions. Davis seconded the motion, which was approved 5-2, with Hershey and Wussow voting against.
Glenwood Springs City Council is slated to move forward with additional work sessions throughout the year.
Following a trial run of a once-monthly morning work session Thursday, council members voted 6-1 to continue hosting work sessions on the morning of the first meeting day of the month. Council Member Tony Hershey voted against.
The city’s Parks and Recreation Department is slated to work in conjunction with the Parks and Recreation Commission on creating a plan for the area’s public mountain bike and hiking trails, including determining a funding mechanism and opening an avenue for public input. Hershey was the sole vote against the direction.
Mayor Jonathan Godes thanked city staff for their efforts to keep Glenwood Springs’ roads clear during significant snowfall throughout December. While the National Weather Service does not track snowfall in Glenwood Springs, Godes said city staff recorded about 48 inches of snowfall from Dec. 3 through Jan. 3.
Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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