The first year likely to include growing pains
By Mark Reaman
Elk Avenue will return to last summer’s one-way configuration on Tuesday, June 15. That means businesses can construct their temporary patios to formal town standards in the public right of way and people can dine in the street at certain locations.
That reconfiguration will be followed quickly by implementation of a new parking enforcement system, on Tuesday, June 22, that requires permit parking in the neighborhoods near the core business district. Full enforcement will begin on Monday, July 5. The two-hour parking limit on Elk Avenue will also be strictly enforced this summer.
The Crested Butte town council will hold a public hearing on Monday, June 21 about the new parking regulations and enforcement practices. If all goes as expected, the new pilot parking plan will be implemented the next day.
Permit parking will be required on Sopris and Maroon Avenues and permit distribution will begin online on June 10. In person distribution will start June 14 and also take place on June 17, 23 and 29 at Town Hall. Specific parking information can be found at www.parkcrestedbutte.com.
In an effort to control vehicle speed on Maroon, Sopris and Whiterock Avenues, the town is also putting out planter boxes as traffic calming devices.
The goal of the program is to relieve parking congestion on popular streets and open up the spots for residents. Elk Avenue two-hour parking will be enforced between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. during the summer and winter seasons. Every residence with legally insufficient off-street parking will receive free parking permits. Elk Avenue businesses will each receive one employee parking permit that allows a vehicle to be parked along Sopris or Maroon. Surplus business permits will be distributed based on if the business paid a parking in lieu fee.
While the parking program will officially begin June 22, enforcement, including the issuing of tickets, will start July 5 and run through October 15. Interstate Parking based out of Denver has been hired to manage the parking and will provide “ambassadors” to help people figure it out.
Butte Bagels owners Cole Thomas and Eric Rankin expressed some concern there won’t be easy employee parking for their workers if they are only issued one business parking permit. Town manager Dara MacDonald said employees could park for free in the main town parking lots like the ones by the fire hall, the four-way or at First and Elk.
They were concerned the nearby lots would be full. Mayor Jim Schmidt noted that parking was an issue in most mountain towns and said Aspen did not issue permits to any businesses.
“This first year will be rough,” admitted community development director Troy Russ. “But we are looking at it to open up parking and we can always adjust things as it goes.”
“It is intended to help businesses,” said councilwoman Mallika Magner.
“Parking has been a challenge in Crested Butte for decades,” said Russ. “The one-way configuration puts more pressure on the neighborhoods because parking spaces on Elk are lost as a result. We had a lot of public feedback and this is what was supported pretty strongly.”
“I appreciate the effort and flexibility,” said Sopris Avenue resident Ian Billick. “Things are changing and we have to stay out in front of it. We can’t just do nothing.”
“The ultimate goal is to get more people to use public transit,” added Schmidt.
Russ emphasized he is still working on to how best to distribute extra permits. “We are in the growing pain phase right now,” he said.
The public hearing will take place June 21 at the Crested Butte town council meeting.