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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

News

Is paid parking
on horizon?

Ketchum committee at odds with consultant


"We donít have a parking problem everywhere. We have a parking problem in a couple of blocks."

ó DICK FOSBURY, Advisory committee spokesman


By GREGORY FOLEY
Express Staff Writer

In a long-anticipated report, a consultant to the city of Ketchum this week said the city will likely experience a parking shortage in future years and should consider implementing paid parking in the downtown core.

Judith Gray, a consultant for Oregon-based Kittelson & Associates, told the Ketchum City Council Monday, April 19, that the city should start taking the first steps toward establishing paid parking in the next year, followed by a greater commitment to a fee-based system in later years if conditions warrant.

"I do think that paid parking probably is in the future for downtown Ketchum," Gray said.

At the same time, Gray suggested that Ketchum should not pursue any large-scale changes to its parking management policies until the demand for parking in the cityís downtown core increases.

"There is not a need to take any drastic measures right now," she said.

Grayís comments came as she presented Kittelson & Associatesí Ketchum Community Core Parking Management Plan, pursuant to a parking study commissioned in 2002.

The plan proposes that the city pursue a long list of near-term, intermediate and long-term actions to optimize access to and use of parking spaces in Ketchum.

However, a committee of Ketchum-area residents and professionals that assisted in the study issued their own findings Monday, claiming that they believe paid parking should only be considered as a long-term goal and on a limited basis.

Dick Fosbury, an employee of Galena Engineering who spoke on behalf of the 11-member committee, said the group generally agreed with many of the consultantís recommendations but does not agree on the proposed timeline for their implementation.

"We donít have a parking problem everywhere," Fosbury said. "We have a parking problem in a couple of blocks."

The 56-page report issued by Kittelson & Associates suggests that Ketchum does not have a parking shortage today but could find itself short on public parking if the city does not act.

Gray said the city currently has approximately 3,000 parking spaces in the downtown core, 1,700 of which are owned by the city. During peak periods of demand, the spaces are typically 70 percent full, she noted.

The city will technically reach its "capacity" when 85 percent of its parking spaces are full during peak periods of vehicle traffic, Gray said.

To prepare for a predicted increase in parking demand, Gray said the city in the next year should:

  • Develop an administrative office to oversee parking management in the city.

     
  • Change the configuration of parking time zones downtown, generally by increasing the number of long-term spaces and decreasing the number of short-term spaces.

     
  • Increase enforcement of short-term spaces.

     
  • Implement paid parking on the cityís surface lots in the commercial core.

     
  • Provide better direction to available parking areas, in part by issuing a "parking map."

Recommended intermediate goals include implementing paid parking on downtown streets and in short-term parking areas. Long-term goals include implementing paid parking in long-term parking areas downtown, establishing a jitney service downtown and developing new parking inside and outside the city center.

Fosbury countered by stating that the committee recommends that a new study of paid parking "feasibility" be conducted before it is planned.

Asking hypothetically if paid parking would be feasible in Ketchum, Fosbury said: "We donít believe that it is."

Fosbury noted that the committee agreed that establishing a jitney service in the commercial core should be a near-term priority for the city.

"We would like you to take some of their recommendations, but also consider some of ours," Fosbury said. "But we would like you to take action. Thatís what we would like to see the most."

Beth Callister, executive director of Wood River Rideshare and a member of the committee, begged to differ with Fosbury, stating that the committee was not unanimous in its findings.

"I, for one, completely support the plan thatís been put before you by Kittelson," she said.

Council members chose not to act immediately on the plan but did offer their views.

Council President Randy Hall said parking "problems" can be relative.

"The reality of people living here is they have a problem if they canít park 10 feet from the door."

Councilman Baird Gourlay agreed with Gray that the city needs to hire an employee to oversee implementation of parts of the plan.

"Otherwise, this is going to be like any other study thatís been done in Ketchum," Gourlay said. "Itís just going to be put on the shelf."


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