Breckenridge town staffers say that paid parking has lessened congestion in core areas of town, but some locals are still unsure of its effectiveness.
During the town council retreat meeting on Tuesday, staff members reviewed their findings from the first six weeks of paid parking in the town. One objective from the town’s parking task force was to have 15 percent of the on-street parking spaces throughout town available at any given time. Kim Dysktra said in an email to the Summit Daily that this has been nearly achieved, with a few exceptions based on the time and day of the week.
Julie Chandler, who lives in the Lower Blue area, said that she has noticed a difference in travel patterns from locals.
“A lot of locals are taking public transportation,” she said. “It really has opened up a lot of spots on Main Street. It’s been needed for years.”
The town implemented paid parking last December as the first step in lessening traffic woes in the town. During their retreat meeting, council members discussed further steps such as roundabout construction and the long-debated parking structure. Construction on the roundabout at Four O’Clock Road will begin in April and the council gave the nod of approval to start designing two other roundabouts. The town is focusing its efforts on Park Avenue, specifically the intersections at Main Street and Village Road.
The town had hoped to strike a bargain with Breckenridge Ski Resort and purchase the South Gondola Lot to build a parking structure there. However, the resort’s vice president, John Buhler, rejected the $3.5 million offer in mid-January saying that the lots were too important to the resort.
Council members deliberated at the meeting which location in town would be the best spot for a structure. The Ice Rink lot was mentioned as a possibility. The council decided on looking at structures in multiple locations, agreeing to create 750 new spaces throughout the town.
“Council feels strongly that it is important to get the location of any parking structure(s) right,” Dykstra wrote. “As a result, it is necessary to consider multiple town-owned locations in order to provide the right balance for the community while maximizing the positive impact to parking in town.”
With more locals taking public transportation in the town, council also discussed several “people-moving” options. The town will be doing a study to see if a new gondola would be cost-effective in getting people where they need to go. The council also approved the expansion of Main Street Trolley to year round service. To make sure the service is effective, the town will purchase a second trolley and hire four seasonal summer drivers.
Nick Truitt, owner of Breck Bike Guides, said that in the beginning, he noticed more people using public transportation. But now he has noticed skiers parking on Main Street, taking up spots for longer periods of time.
“When the Gondola Lot fills up, I think Main Street does too,” he said.
His concern was that as people learned the system, they may take advantage of the long-term parking rates in town.
Shortly after the parking machines were installed throughout town in November, one of the kiosks had its solar panel destroyed. Breckenridge police were unable to find a suspect. Breckenridge resident Mikenze Eau Claire said that replacing kiosks would be costly for the town, and that in the end they are a waste of money. Eau Claire added that the town has also not been clear on where the money from paid parking is going. As someone working in the town, adjusting to paid parking has also caused difficulties.
“We have to park far away to get to work,” he said. “It’s not beneficial for people who live and work here.”