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For the week of Mar. 22 through Mar. 28, 2000

More parking spaces or $50 tickets?

Consultant says more parking won’t cure Ketchum congestion


By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer

People who drive into Ketchum may eventually have to pay to park.

The city’s downtown parking availability is adequate, but seven years down the road, something will have to be done to increase availability. Building more parking spaces is not the answer.

That was the message from Ketchum’s highway, traffic and parking consultant Darrell Wilburn to the City Council Monday night.

Better management of existing parking is probably the most appropriate solution, he said.

Council members agreed.

"Sooner or later we’ve got to start dealing with the problem and call it a problem," Councilman David Hutchinson said.

The number of people driving into town is the problem, council members agreed.

Wilburn presented to the council a report that recommends converting Ketchum’s two-hour parking spaces to paid parking or increasing fines for those who overstay their limits.

"Fifty-dollar tickets and one-hour parking will certainly get rid of the long-term parkers," Wilburn told the council.

Wilburn said the average stay for someone parking in Ketchum’s downtown is one hour. About 25 percent of those parking in the downtown stay longer than an hour, he said.

Wilburn said those who park longer than one hour are taking up a lot of the available parking spaces in town.

He studied an eight-block area of the downtown.

"Parking meters are very effective for enforcement," Wilburn said. "Metering is a tool and you need to use it as your parking demand requires."

Wilburn said that peak summer traffic, the busiest time in Ketchum, creates 85 percent parking occupancy. He forecast two percent growth in parking demand per year, if Ketchum continues to grow at its current pace.

The uncertainty with parking meters, Wilburn said, is that "parking meters could discourage people from coming into the downtown area, but if there are no parking spaces, they don’t come anyway."

Council members agreed with Wilburn’s assessment, though they did not make any decisions on the matter.

"To try to accommodate the cars is a losing battle," Councilwoman Chris Potters said.

She and Hutchinson advocated mass transit as the solution.

Hutchinson said increasing parking availability in Ketchum would provide more incentive for people to drive to town, adding to the overcrowded highway as well.

"We’ll just be fighting a losing battle and ruining the highway," he said.

Hutchinson said a park-and-ride lot in Hailey could be an answer.

Ketchum resident Mickey Garcia adamantly disagreed.

"Why don’t we just tell Hailey they’re our parking lot," Garcia said. "You’re trying to shift the responsibility down valley."

Council members disagreed with Garcia’s interpretation of their opinions.

"We didn’t say that," Councilman Randy Hall said.

The Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council will continue to address the parking issue in their consideration of the city’s draft comprehensive plan. A joint council and P&Z meeting is scheduled for April 6 at Ketchum City Hall at 5:30 p.m.

The council also considered the following issues at Monday’s meeting:

 

  • Ketchum’s codification process is finally completed.

Codification is the means by which a municipality binds its laws in an easy-to-use, comprehensive book or books.

The 496-page Ketchum code is current as of July 19, 1999.

It includes all of the city’s ordinances and will be updated about twice a year.

At the request of the city council, staff will look into the possibility of creating electronic, CD-ROM versions of the code for the public to purchase.

The code books will be available for purchase next week.

 

  • At the request of county resident Will Caldwell, the city council endorsed a plan to bring music to the city’s Forest Service Park this summer.

Caldwell proposed that local bands could play music on Friday evenings, in a fashion similar to the Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber of Commerce’s Ketch’em Alive Tonight program last summer.

Wood River Middle School student and drum player Scott Bohrer, 13, told the council he would love the opportunity for his band, Rocket Science, to play for a crowd.

"I’d love to play for Sun Valley," he said.

Caldwell said he will return to the council to work out further details in the coming weeks.

 

  • A scheduled protest hearing was held for creating a local improvement district (LID) to replace the Broadway bridge, which spans the Big Wood River, parallel to the Warm Springs Road bridge.

The city has proposed a 90 percent city, 10 percent resident split to pay for the $200,000 to $300,000 bridge.

Not enough protests were filed with the city to stop the LID effort. City staff will draft an ordinance to initiate the LID.

Galena Engineering will make potential bridge designs available to the public at noon and 5 p.m. tomorrow at Ketchum City Hall.

 

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