GREEN MOUNTAIN FALLS • With 250 designated parking spots to serve the anticipated influx of hikers and tourists, the Green Mountain Falls Board of Trustees approved a two-year pilot program that includes paid parking.
Residents and nearby community members would be exempt under the program. “Residents are already paying into your system, roads, trash, all of those things … visitors aren’t paying in the same way,” said Jonathan Cain, a consultant who reviewed the results of the parking/signage survey that sought community input on the issues.
The Kirkpatrick Foundation funded the survey.
Among Cain’s recommendations was for the town to hire a contract firm to monitor and collect the fees. After the Feb. 16 presentation, the board agreed to seek requests for proposals from contractors interested in managing the program.
The fee-based parking would run from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from April through October. The first two hours would be free and $2 an hour for the third and fourth hours.
“After that time I believe parking rate should increase to $5 an hour,” Cain said. “If you stay for five hours you’d pay $9, six hours you’d pay $14, with a maximum daily charge of $34.”
And for residents who park in town when the roads to their homes are icy, the plan would not impact that type of emergency, he added.
The board’s approval of the pilot program stems from problems that were exacerbated last summer, when statewide COVID-related closures drove people outside, many of them to the town’s trails. When visitors couldn’t find parking places, some parked illegally and blocked driveways. A few even defecated in people’s yards.
“You have one town marshal who has given the town a wonderful amount of service; that man is hero,” Cain said. “He’s a great asset to this community but he can’t do everything, especially when it comes to hazard and safety problems.”
In the survey some residents expressed concern that a managed parking plan would bring an end to the friendly atmosphere of the town. Cain countered that when people are driving up and down residential streets, parking illegally, the congestion takes away from the friendly atmosphere.
Former mayor and trustee Dick Bratton expressed reservations about the presentation. “The paid parking concept lacks any business plan,” he said. “You have lots of figures and speculation of income but I haven’t seen anything substantial as far as the cost.”
Nonetheless, Mayor Jane Newberry expressed support for Cain’s recommendation. “This is a two-year program, two summers. The time to do it is now,” she said. “We have problems with hiking, we have problems with parking, with signage and this group has stepped up to try and solve those problems.”
The group included members of the business community, residents, chamber of commerce members and community stakeholders.
After the meeting, Cain provided suggestions for methods of collecting payments. Some municipalities use QR Codes that drivers can scan with cell phones and then use an online system to pay for parking. Others use a telephone-based system, where an individual can call an automated system to register their vehicle for parking, and others use more commonly recognized parking kiosks to manage this portion of it.
For Cain, the project is the subject of his thesis, parking management in rural towns and cities with tourist-based economics, for a master’s degree from the University of Colorado at Denver. He is the assistant town administrator for Idaho Falls, a member of the chamber of commerce and director of Clear Creek County Economic Development.
“The recommendations I made are non-binding; these are decisions for your town to make,” Cain said.