Council percolates over Elk Ave summer street seating spaces

Town will pay for fencing

[  By Mark Reaman  ]

While agreeing that Elk Avenue will be in a two-way traffic configuration with street seating parklets or patios this summer, the Crested Butte town council is still pondering a few other specifics. On Monday, February 7, the council agreed to some limitations making sure the spaces wouldn’t be used for things like games or live entertainment and instead be restricted to restaurant seating. Businesses will be charged $3 per foot or $600 per space to use the town’s right-of-way. 

The town will purchase the $25,000 in metal fencing that delineates the spaces from the street and sidewalk. The thought is that the town can always use the fencing for other things like events such as Vinotok. Councilmember Chris Haver said the new permit fees should pay for the fencing after two years. 

What the council still has not decided and will think about until the first meeting in March is how many parklet or patio street dining spaces to allow. 

If council goes with the spacing used last summer that basically allowed street seating along the frontage of a particular restaurant, the larger restaurants like the Secret Stash would dominate over smaller physical restaurants like Teocalli Tamale. With no change from the previous summer 38 parking spaces would be eliminated for seating. If council went with a so-called “equity option” and decided to allow up to two parklet/patios for every restaurant it could potentially eliminate 46 total Elk Avenue parking spots. A third option to limit businesses with 24 feet or less of frontage to one parklet/patio space and larger business frontages to a maximum of two would eliminate just 32 parking spaces on Elk Ave. 

Community development director Troy Russ said last summer Bonez used the most street seating given its long Elk Avenue frontage and it took up about three-and-a-half parking spaces. 

Councilmember Anna Fenerty spoke in favor of the equity option indicating it levelled the playing field for large and small restaurants. She said not every business would take the maximum space so it wouldn’t necessarily eliminate 46 spaces. 

Councilmember Beth Goldstone said the idea of potentially eliminating that much parking that might then shift to neighborhoods was a concern, so she favored allowing two parklet/patio spaces maximum depending on street frontage. Councilmember Jason MacMillan agreed that losing additional parking spaces on Elk was a concern. 

Councilmember Mona Merrill liked the equity option since it would provide more outdoor seating options in an uncertain summer restaurant environment.

Haver said that while that sounded good, giving every interested restaurant two spaces would impinge on parking spots located in front of retail or other businesses. 

Fenerty also floated the idea of allocating every restaurant one space and then allowing them to trade it to other establishments if they decide to not use it.

Mayor Ian Billick said it appeared council needed more time to digest the ramifications of the different alternatives. Russ said he could provide council with a map of what the various options would look like on Elk Avenue. Fenerty asked if town staff or she could do a survey of businesses to gather input and potential interest or objections in the various options.

Council agreed to think about the options and return to the discussion with the goal of making a decision at the March 7 meeting.

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