Breckenridge Town Council looks to solve perennial parking riddle
Breckenridge leaders who had been working to create a comprehensive parking strategy slowed the process down Tuesday night, opting instead to first build profiles of those people using town lots.
“I’m advocating we back up,” Councilwoman Jen McAtamney said at a council work session Tuesday evening. “We need to profile our users and figure out what we should be offering them to maximize their visit.”
The plan is a shift away from the town’s long-time approach of trying to entice visitors who park in the gondola lots to come into the downtown business district after a day on the slopes. Council members noted the effort, previously dubbed the “bread crumb” approach was unlikely to be successful as many visitors know ahead of time when they have to or want to leave town, and put a focus instead on making the process of parking and moving around Breckenridge less frustrating for locals, employees and visitors staying for various lengths of time.
“We would like to enhance our guests’ arrival, transit and parking experience,” Mayor John Warner said. “We want them to have a good time and come back.”
Town staffers said they will create a number of user group categories and, over the next several months, use surveys to understand what each group needs or wants from the town’s parking infrastructure. Breckenridge Ski Resort representatives said at the meeting they would assist the effort with skier surveys.
The town has conducted several studies on parking and transit in Breckenridge in recent years, which showed many drivers look for parking as close as possible to their destination and when they are unable to locate a space, begin to circulate around the town searching for a spot, creating added congestion on busy days. Some also park in the BreckConnect Gondola lots while skiing during the day and then drive into the downtown area and try to find new parking spaces.
“We actually know that we do, in town, reach a threshold where our infrastructure, parking and transit, reaches a point where people aren’t able to get where they need to go,” Councilman Ben Brewer said. “And that must be very frustrating. I also have a sense that we’re reaching that 80 percent threshold more and more and if we do nothing, eventually lots of people will be very frustrated just by trying to do basic things, like go eat in a restaurant.”
The lack of available parking, particularly on peak days in the winter, has long been a complaint of locals and visitors to Breckenridge. It’s a problem that will require attention over the next several years as many of the town’s largest parking reserves — including the gondola lots and the overflow skier parking lots on Airport Road — are slated to be developed.
Addressing the parking and transit situation in Breckenridge was at the top of some of the newer council members campaign agendas when they ran for office in April 2012.
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