Parking on Main is free " for now
BRECKENRIDGE ” Although a recent study warned that new fees in skier parking lots along Park Avenue could force hundreds of vehicles a day into the free parking areas of Breckenridge, town council members recently decided to pull back from an earlier plan to press for paid parking along Main Street.
The report refers to the Breckenridge Ski Area plan to charge for parking in what are currently free lots in the vicinity of the future gondola terminal, a move that will significantly change the parking equation in town.
“The last direction (town staff) had from council was to take it to the community and tell them what the options are,” said spokesperson Kim DiLallo, referring to the long-discussed idea of charging for parking on Main Street.
But with three new council members in place, town planners decided to once again raise the question this month at a retreat.
“We wanted to be sure the council was comfortable with that. Do we want to continue down the path of getting the information out to the community?” DiLallo said.
Mayor Ernie Blake, as well as Councilmembers Rob Millisor and John Warner supported the direction from the previous town council, but Dave Rossi, Jennifer McAtamney, Jeffrey Bergeron and Eric Mamula indicated they weren’t in favor of the concept, reflecting the political shift wrought by the April 4 election, at least on this issue.
So for now, paid parking downtown seems to be on the back burner, if not completely dead.
“My main concern is how it will affect the character of our community,” Mamula said. “We’re in a state of flux right now, with the switching of Highway 9 and paid gondola parking.”
Charging for parking on Main Street on top of all those other changes might be too much of a shock for visitors, Mamula said.
While Mamula acknowledged that paid downtown parking may be working in Aspen and Telluride, he doesn’t think that means it’s the right answer for Breckenridge.
“Our clientele is different. I don’t think looking at other towns is legit … and I think it would be detrimental to our business community and downtown core,” Mamula said, adding that the restaurant association is solidly against paid parking downtown.
But he added a caveat: “If employees keep parking on Main Street, the council will have no choice next time this discussion comes up.”
Blake said he understands and even shares some of the resistance to the idea of paid parking, but said he favored getting more information into the hands of the people most affected by the issue ” the business community in the town core.
“If I had my druthers, I’d get the information out there and give people an opportunity for feedback. We have a problem here, and this has worked elsewhere,” Blake said, suggesting that Breckenridge can learn from the experiences of other mountain resort communities.
Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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