Silverthorne starts discussion around potential parking management in town core
As Silverthorne continues to expand its downtown area, town government is looking at potential ways to better manage parking, including the new parking structure at Fourth Street Crossing.
At the Town Council work session Wednesday, Dec. 8, staff and council spoke with representatives from Interstate Parking — the company that manages Breck Park — about options to control parking in the town. The conversation started because of the issues Fourth Street Crossing’s developers have already seen since the parking garage opened, such as prohibited overnight parking.
“We need to prepare for an eventuality where if we don’t put some controls on this thing, the parking structure will be abused,” Tim Fredregill, development executive of Fourth Street Crossing developer Millender White, said. “I think that’s a pretty big reality we noticed almost immediately after opening the garage.”
Interstate Parking and town staff came up with a conceptual plan of how management in the town core would operate, proposing the first two hours in the new garage at Fourth Street Crossing be free with a nominal fee charged after. The company also recommended a time constraint for on-street parking.
Everyone at the meeting reiterated that parking management is all about adjusting behavior — if parking is free and unlimited, everyone will drive and stay put for a long period of time. However, if there is a cost to parking or a time limit, many times folks will find an alternate means of transportation or stay for a shorter period of time. Fredregill said it would be smart to implement a management system sooner rather than later so that people won’t have to change their behavior too long after getting used to the current free system.
Gareth Lloyd, partner and executive vice president of Interstate Parking’s Denver office, said implementing some form of parking management has led to more turnovers at parking spots where the business operates. He said the average person stays in their parking spot for two and a half hours, so if the town decides to implement free parking for the first two hours, then the average user would only have a small fee to pay.
Fredregill said increasing turnovers is good for the economy, as it means more folks are coming to the parking structure to visit local businesses.
Some council members were completely opposed to the idea of implementing paid parking, noting that they personally avoid areas where you have to pay for parking. Council member Mike Spry said they told the community it would be free parking when they approved the construction of the new garage.
“There’s nothing about this conversation that’s actually made me happy,” Spry said. “… There is a lot of dialogue in our community that that parking garage was going to be a community asset … and I think there’s a lot of folks in our community that were under the perception that this was not going to be a pay-for-parking entity or structure. I think we’re going to have a community issue if we go down this path.”
Council was also concerned about the impact on the local workforce who relies on the free parking in the area. Fredregill said since it’s a public parking structure it would need to be offered to everybody on the same terms. Employees would still be able to park in the garage, they would just be subject to the same payment system as the rest of the public.
“The last thing we want to do is shut out the people that are working here, because those are the people that are hopefully living here,” council member Kevin McDonald said.
Council member Kelly Baldwin said she was torn because she can see both sides of the issue. While she is not a fan of paid parking, she said it is “inevitable” that the garage will be abused, so the town needs some plan to mitigate this.
“I don’t know what the right answer is but I’m 50/50 either way,” Baldwin said. “I wish we could come up with some sort of a structure that just penalized the abusers — kept people from abusing it.”
Lloyd said every town the company works with has conversations like this but he assured council that they have been able reach agreements, pointing out that Crested Butte’s system is entirely free and simply based on time management.
Council didn’t come to any conclusive decisions about parking management following the work session but agreed they will continue conversations with Interstate Parking to determine the best course of action.
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