Room to roam, room to park | VailDaily.com

Room to roam, room to park

David L'Heureux

EAGLE – Parking, parking, parking.The Eagle Town Board has set a tone for its $3 million redesign of Broadway. There will be meandering sidewalks and colorful landscaping, but what Broadway business-owners wanted to talk about was parking.Both designs considered by the board reduced the number of parking spots on Broadway. One was all parallel parking with 69 spaces. The other, which the board picked, has parallel and diagonal parking, and a total of 79 spaces. There are currently 116 spaces on Broadway, and town officials say sidestreet parking will make up for the deficit.Those numbers were concerned members of the Broadway Advisory Committee – a group of 13 Broadway business owners advising the town. By their calculations, an all-diagonal parking design could raise the number of spots to 150, committee member Jerry Butter said. “I like the idea of a pedestrian-friendly street, but we still require a lot of parking,” said Butters, who owns property on the corner of Highway 6 and Broadway. Tim Cochrane, executive director of the Eagle Valley Chamber of Commerce, the town will sooner or later have to make up for lost parking. “We might not need (those spots) today,” said Cochrane. “But if we are successful in achieving what we are trying to do down here, where will the spots come from?”Recent studies of downtown parking showed there is currently not much of a crunch, Town planner Bill Gray said. Only about half the spots downtown are used. On Broadway, the figure is closer to 60 percent, Gray said. “There are times on the 200 block at lunch and after work when (Broadway) gets parked out,” said Gray. The new design on Broadway may force residents to alter how they use the downtown. “People might have to get out and walk a little more,” said Gray. “That will get people seeing other stores too, so everyone is gaining with this.”Experience vs. convenienceLess parking spaces leads to a more pedestrian-friendly shopping experience, Eagle Mayor John Stavney said.”We are looking for more experience, not more parking,” he said. “(This) is about enhancing a sense of place. People respond to that, especially here.”Spokesmen for some businesses – like Butters’ accounting firm, the Pharmacy, and Wells Fargo Bank – said they welcomed the “experience,” but their customers need convenience, too.”When you talk about banking, you are talking about convenience,” said Patty Ferguson, branch manager for Wells Fargo on Broadway. “We get complaints all the time about people not being able to find a parking spot.”Town board member Ed Woodland said he understood the need for convenience, but, that’s not the intent of the redesign.”For me, it is all about persuading folks to redevelop their property,” Woodland said. “And, in my mind, to persuade people to redevelop with a nice place to be, as opposed to a nice parking lot with lots of spaces.”Based on numbers from Gray, there are potentially 524 parking spots downtown. “If we get into a situation where parking is a problem, and we have an inventory of 500 some spaces, those spaces can be fleshed out,” said Woodland. “They can be striped and prepared fairly soon.”Spill overWork could begin on the three- and four-hundred blocks in the spring of 2006. Construction on the one- and two-hundred blocks is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2007. At a cost of about $750,000 per block, the total price tag to streetscape the four blocks on Broadway is about $3 million. That price includes utility work and improvements to the downtown’s water services, said Gray.So just what will Eagle residents and merchants get out of this investment from the general fund? Quite a bit, said Bob Couri of Britina Designs, a landscape architecture firm from Arvada that came up with the plan. “We have seen it in similar project – what we have seen are vacant buildings getting upgraded. People see when the town invests money. They get excited that the town cares,” Couri said. Such projects often force existing businesses to reinvent or reinvest in their product. It also brings new businesses in to the area, Couri said. The town would love to see that happen, said Gray. “Hopefully this will spill over to the private sector,” he said. This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.Vail, Colorado