Dillon officials look to improve traffic safety and work with community group to solve parking woes
DILLON — Officials are looking at new plans to try to improve parking and traffic safety in town.
Traffic has been a major talking point in Dillon over the past few months, with ongoing conversations circling everything from speeding and safety to the impacts of increased visitation throughout the town. Officials say a busier than normal summer at the area’s trails and marina also has contributed to concerns.
“Dillon is such a small community that these sessions have focused on council discussion about the impact of visitation patterns and traffic to the community as a whole,” said Kerstin Anderson, the town’s marketing and communications director. “… I think we’re seeing growth all over the county. We’re seeing increased occupancy due to COVID, and that has put stress not just on Dillon, but our community as a whole. So those are all things that council members are aware of, are concerned about and have committed to ongoing conversations about.”
Efforts are already underway to implement traffic-calming measures and collect better data on the way motorists move through town. Last month, the town installed a number of new radar speed limit signs — the kind that flash the driver’s speed as they pass by — in hopes of making motorists more aware of how fast they’re going.
So far, eight new signs have been installed, including at Tenderfoot Street by Town Park, LaBonte Street near the Dillon Dam Road, and Gold Run Circle by the marina, among others. Anderson called the signs semipermanent, noting that they could be moved depending on necessity, and said more signs could be added in the future if needed. Anderson also noted that in addition to grabbing drivers’ attention, the signs would provide the town with better information about where there are speeding problems and how best to address them.
“We believe we will see valuable data to help us understand where there are concerns, and how to make more informed decisions about that,” Anderson said.
Officials are also planning to install new speed bumps throughout the town, predominantly in areas where there is heavy interaction between vehicles and pedestrians.
The Dillon Town Council is expected to discuss the speed bumps and where they might be appropriate during its next meeting Tuesday, Oct. 6, and should have more recommendations on traffic measures after data is collected by the radar speed limit signs in early November.
Some community members are getting involved to help steer conversations toward issues in their neighborhoods.
A new Town of Dillon Neighborhood Coalition — composed of property owners on Gold Run Circle, Tenderfoot and East LaBonte — presented a list of grievances and recommendations to the council during the most recent meeting last month. The group’s message to the town was to work with community members to address ongoing concerns without potentially making things worse.
In the initial roundup of recommendations, town staff came up with conceptual designs to address parking issues on Gold Run Circle, including the addition of formalized parallel parking on the roadway — where visitors often park to walk their kayaks and stand-up paddleboards to the marina — and adding a new paved parking lot and restroom facility to help support marina activity. The coalition came out strongly against the plans, noting that an increase in lake users this summer has had detrimental effects in the area.
“What used to be a quiet neighborhood has unfortunately been overrun the last few years by speeders doing over 50 mph, drivers running stop signs, lake users trespassing our on decks, tourists turning around in our driveways where our kids are playing, visitors leaving trash in our yards, paddleboarders unloading in our driveways, concertgoers tailgating in our front yards and, unbelievable but true, kayakers urinating in our backyards,” said Sean Butson, who spoke on behalf of the coalition. “… We anticipate such actions will only exacerbate the problems mentioned, will almost certainly reduce property values and continue to negatively effect the safety of our children.”
The coalition came prepared with a list of recommendations for the town, including shutting down preliminary talks about new parking options in the area, moving the Stand Up Paddle Colorado rental shop to another area of the marina, restricting parking on Gold Run Circle to residents (or closing it down altogether) and more.
The coalition also advocated for more widespread traffic measures in residential areas, including better signage, a more robust police presence, narrowed lanes and constructing new sidewalks, among others.
The Town Council was receptive to some of the coalition’s ideas and agreed to table discussions surrounding new parking changes to Gold Run Circle as well as to include the coalition in upcoming conversations. But some council members also voiced that going as far as banning on-street parking in the area could prevent community members from using the town’s best amenities and could set a bad precedent of more residents demanding changes in their neighborhoods.
“I think we need to be careful,” council member Karen Kaminski said. “I think it’s great they got together and they’re expressing their concerns and hopefully working with (staff) on ideas. But we could have neighborhood coalitions pop up all over the place saying, ‘I don’t want the farmers market here. I don’t want people parking here for a concert. I don’t want people doing this or that.’ We could open a can of worms by giving any neighborhood coalition too much power.”
Anderson said Dillon doesn’t have a set timeline on when it might begin implementing some of the new traffic measures in town but that plans should begin to evolve and solidify over coming work sessions and discussions with community members.
“One of our core tenets is to create an environment enjoyable for both our visitors and residents,” Anderson said. “That’s at the heart of the solutions council is considering.”
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