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Concept of paid parking to be discussed at end of September

“Huge political decision”

by Mark Reaman

An informational meeting to discuss the possibility of paid parking in Crested Butte will be held Thursday, September 28 in the town council chambers. The idea has emerged from the recently formed citizen’s parking committee, which recently listened to a private company explain how paid parking could work in Crested Butte.

Councilman Chris Ladoulis is a member of the committee and said after hearing from a business called Interstate Parking, the committee felt a broad discussion on paid parking was warranted.

“Our parking is free and easy and there are companies out there that can transition to paid parking and handle it for a fee,” he explained to the rest of the Town Council at the September 5 meeting. “It would be a huge political decision but it would certainly change the parking habits in town.”

Ladoulis said in order to work well, Mt. Crested Butte, Crested Butte Mountain Resort and Crested Butte would have to be on board with the new parking structure.

“The parking management solutions being considered encompass establishing parking zones, regulation, enforcement and potential collection of revenue,” Ladoulis explained. “To run more cost-effectively and create a seamless experience for residents and visitors, a common solution across both Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte is being explored. This could allow shared program expenses, common enforcement/admin employees, and less confusion for drivers if they were to park in both towns.”

Mt. Crested Butte town manager Joe Fitzpatrick confirmed the town is open to the paid idea and will participate in the September 28 meeting.

“If there is paid parking in Crested Butte and free parking up here, we would expect our lots to fill up quickly and that is not necessarily ideal,” Fitzpatrick said. “In our design of the lot behind the Nordic Inn, we are looking at paid parking. Kiosks are $12,000 each and we would need several but this group would run and monitor the parking in the lots for a fee. It would work like a toll road where license plates are used to charge vehicle owners. There is also a smartphone app. If someone is parked for a few hours but is having a great day skiing on the hill they can use the app to extend their parking spot. Right now this is all preliminary so the upcoming educational meeting can shed some light on where we can go with this.”

 “There are ways for it to be seamless but there has to be buy-in in the valley,” Ladoulis added. “The main thing is to float the idea and become educated about it.”

The work session on September 28 is slated to start at 6 p.m.

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