NewsCovering Colorado


Free parking lots in Old Colorado City will soon go away, business owners pushing back

Posted at 11:06 PM, Mar 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-22 01:06:06-04

OLD COLORADO CITY — Old Colorado City business owners are raising concerns after plans were made to turn three free parking lots into paid parking within the next month.

Scott Lee, the city's parking enterprise director, said the city needs additional funding in order to completely rebuild the parking lots to address asphalt deterioration and breakage. He said the money from the paid parking will fund the projects.

"That's not something we can afford to do unless we add structured parking. The Parks Department didn't have it in their budget to do it so they said we'll transfer ownership to the parking enterprise, which can then charge for the lots and then can afford to do the necessary repairs," Lee said.

He said after the repairs, the lots will be up to standards set by The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for the state of Colorado. Lee said resurfacing the three lots will cost around $250,000. A retaining wall near one of the lots is also deteriorating, which he said will cost around $1 million to repair.

Lee said the paid parking lots will also promote more turnover of patrons spending money at businesses.

"What we're trying to do is encourage people not to drive around looking for free parking by driving one lot to the next. This will standardize the parking much as we have in downtown. You get people to park, get people out of their cars going to the destination, and spending time along the way, traveling by other businesses," he said.

Nina Driver and Christa Robinson are both managers at Thunder and Buttons Restaurant and Bar in Old Colorado City. They said their customers normally spend an extended period of time at the restaurant and the paid parking would discourage them from coming.

"We want people to hang out all day on the west side and go from one restaurant to the next and shopping between the two. We don't want them to have to go and pay to park and then leave. We like that they're here all day," said Driver.

The city's Parking System Enterprise Department held an informational meeting about the changes on Monday night. Many business owners who attended raised concerns about employees having to pay for parking who normally use the free lots. Lee said the department is working on a solution to give businesses discounted parking permits for employees to use.

Maddy Brown and Taylor Hoeltke are regulars in Old Colorado City and said taking away free parking would drive away tourists and locals.

"It feels like it kind of makes it so that only certain types of people can come here and enjoy themselves because they're the ones who can't afford it," said Brown.

Lee said repair work to the lots will begin in the next few weeks and patrons will have to start paying for parking at the lots in the next month. In the meantime, he said the city's parking enterprise will determine the cost of parking permits for businesses, the number of permits given out, and who will be eligible before the plan is implemented.

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