Parking solution as close as Aspen
There was a recent request to the Glenwood Springs City Council by several downtown merchants, because they are losing customers due to the downtown parking problem, to do something to solve this problem. The solution voiced by the Council was to “get a group together to look carefully at the problem.”
Five years ago the Glenwood Springs City council asked the voters of the city to approve a new tax to fund a Traffic Congestion Management Program to solve several traffic-related problems. Two of the items included in the ballot were an intra-city public transit system and programs to increase transportation system efficiency including activities to reduce overall travel and parking demand. The voters approved that ballot in 1995 effective in 1996.
If five years of a tax-funded program (with a total tax income from 1996 through the year 2000 of $3,407,362) have apparently provided no solution to the parking problem, what realistic hope can anyone have that “forming a group to look carefully at the problem” will result in action towards a solution?
Let me tell you a story about a community that had a parking problem. Customers could not easily reach the store or restaurant so they could shop or have a lunch or dinner. The city fathers were determined to do something to solve the problem. They approved a large capital expenditure to build a parking structure, and they provided several local bus routes (operating on a three times per hour schedule). The local buses and the parking structure were lightly used. Parking at or near the employees or owner’s office or shop was more convenient and so the parking problem remained. Even with a two-hour limit, they could always move their cars to another spot. But most important it was free.
The merchants insisted that a solution to the parking problem must be found. The city fathers decided that the only solution was a paid parking program. They installed a state-of-the-art system covering the downtown area. They recognized that squeezing the downtown area would cause overflow onto the residential areas. They solved that problem with a residential sticker program.
The result was an increase in local bus and parking structure utilization. Parking spaces became always available and most important the fees collected completely paid for the parking control staff, the equipment, and with the surplus was able to completely fund an additional local bus route. This is no fairy story. This community is within 40 miles of Glenwood Springs. The community is Aspen.
No one can argue that five years (now six years) wasn’t sufficient time, or that $3.4 million in tax income was insufficient to apply staff or experts to analyze how a nearby successful parking program could be adjusted to develop a solution for Glenwood Springs. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the downtown business merchants did not make the price for inaction or inability by the City of Glenwood Springs to solve the parking problem high enough.
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