Paid parking a no-go this summer in Crested Butte

Consider enforcing two-hour parking limits?

By Mark Reaman

Paid parking will not be coming to Crested Butte this summer.

The Town Council on Monday, April 1 decided that the public feedback on the idea has been mostly negative and council wants to see how this summer goes with congestion and parking problems.

The staff had asked the council for direction over the issue stating that if paid parking was desired they would need to know by April 15 in order to lay the groundwork for a June start. The town staff and council have spent several meetings looking at potential paid parking systems over the course of the last two years.

“In the long run I see this happening but I haven’t heard from constituents that it needs to be done immediately,” said councilman Will Dujardin. “In fact, I’ve only heard pretty much the opposite. I do think the Vail change is having an impact and Saturdays this winter were really busy with the drive market. I’d like to see how this summer goes. I think we can wait one more summer but probably not much longer.”

“Honestly, I haven’t had anyone bring it to me as an issue,” agreed councilman Chris Haver. “I haven’t felt the outcry for it yet. Maybe we should bring it up for public discussion before the summer.”

The town had hired consultant Interstate Parking of Colorado to evaluate potential paid parking plans for the town. The suggested plans had paid parking focused on Elk Avenue and the Four-way Stop with the ancillary parking lots and residential streets coming into play as well. Locals and employees could obtain annual parking permits at minimal or no cost. Payments could be handled through web reservations, payment kiosks or a mobile app. Parking “ambassadors” would be hired to help with the program. Interstate Parking owner Tony Janowiec has emphasized that parking plans were extremely flexible and could be put in place relatively quickly.

“The first step would be to enforce the two-hour parking limits on Elk Avenue,” suggested councilman Paul Merck.

Town manager Dara MacDonald said that if council really wanted to diligently pursue that two-hour enforcement rule, it would likely entail some staffing adjustments in the Marshal’s Office.

Mayor Jim Schmidt said that like Dujardin, he had heard mostly negative feedback on the idea of paid parking in Crested Butte. No other council member said the idea should be pursued at this time so the council will plan to reevaluate the idea after the summer season.

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