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Main Street board discusses parking, role with town


The Main Street Advisory Board met May 22, with the board discussing the town’s proposition of having a portion of the Town Park athletic field paved and used as a permanent parking lot, along with other temporary parking plans.

Board member Rosanna Dufour, who is also the head of the Main Street MET (Mountain Express Transit) task force, led the conversation. 

The MET task force was assigned by the Main Street Advisory Board to look into temporary parking options during the planned reconstruction of U.S. 160 going through downtown Pagosa Springs, she explained.

In a recent Pagosa Springs Planning Commission meeting, the idea of having a part of the Town Park athletic field paved was presented, with multiple planning commissioners, residents and Pagosa Springs Middle School (PSMS) Principal Chris Hinger expressing concern.

During that meeting, Hinger mentioned that it is the only athletic field PSMS has access to.

Dufour expressed concerns about having a portion of the park paved and used for permanent parking spaces, explaining the idea originally stemmed from using that location as a temporary parking space.

“I guess what I struggle with from the task force perspective is, I didn’t want the blame to fall on us when people are unhappy with a permanent parking lot, saying that it was because of what we were trying to create to offset parking for construction, because that’s not what this is,” Dufour said.

She added that there have been some communication issues in regard to the Main Street Advisory Board’s role and the Pagosa Springs Town Council’s, and that two different paths have been taken considering the option to use the Town Park athletic field as a temporary solution or to have it constructed as a permanent parking lot.

Dufour explained this “was basically a collaborative thought between the town and the MET task force that we could create a temporary parking lot,” but she noted a lack of communication caused the town to take its own path on the matter.

She mentioned that, in the sense of what the MET task force has been asked to do, she believes paving any portion of the Town Park for permanent parking is “not really appropriate.” 

Board member Warren Brown commented on the issue, saying, “We are trying to offer positions with help and, in the end, this is the town’s decision.” 

He further explained he believes using Town Park for parking would be a temporary thing.

“It’s an alternative; this is not a fix all,” he said. “If they don’t like it then we can try to look elsewhere.”

Board member Haz Said expressed agreement with Brown, explaining that he believes the board’s role should be to provide temporary options.

“And even being anywhere close to paving paradise to put up a parking lot, I don’t know,” he added.

Dufour commented, “This doesn’t need to happen,” in regard to what the task force is trying to accomplish.

Board president Rick Holter also spoke on the matter, suggesting that parking is an issue even without the reconstruction project.

“I think we need to take advantage of land that’s right in the middle of downtown and that essentially is not being used except for two or three days a year when people are sliding down the hill ... It just seems to me like a great location for parking, and it sounds like to me that the town kind of took advantage of this temporary idea to, like, build it out,” Holter said.

Brown brought up the idea of using Mary Fisher Park to provide more parking, noting that it is already being used for partial parking. 

Dufour noted that has not been discussed.

Holter asked if the board should take a position on the matter of paving a portion of Town Park, to which Brown commented, “I don’t think we should take a position on it, honestly.”

Brown explained again that the task force’s responsibility is to look for temporary options.

In an interview, Town Manager David Harris indicated that the matter would be presented to the Combined Parks and Recreation Advisory Board for discussion at its regular meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on June 6. 

He noted that, ultimately, the town council will be the one to approve or deny the project.

Dufour went on to mention that there are multiple plans in the works to provide relief for parking downtown during the reconstruction project slated for spring of 2025. 

She noted the town has reached an agreement with the Ruby M. Sisson Memorial Library to use its vacant lot located to the west of the library, with access to U.S. 160.

Dufour also mentioned that The Springs Resort and BWD Construction are both still “verbally willing to let us use those lots on the south end of The Springs Resort once their construction is complete.”

She noted the county has expressed interest in providing an in-kind trade to improve those lots to be used for temporary parking.

Dufour explained that The Springs Resort is not in favor of having parallel parking spaces put in on Hot Springs Boulevard due to heavy traffic concerns.

She also mentioned the town is looking to get a pedestrian bridge installed over the San Juan River near the Malt Shoppe and the museum to connect the east end to downtown and that additional temporary parking lots could be developed near there as well.

She noted that “if all these things come together, then realistically we have offset those parking spaces’’ that will be lost during the reconstruction project.

The board ended the meeting by discussing future meetings and plans for the board.

Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation Executive Director Emily Lashbrooke mentioned there will be a special meeting held with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and town council on June 27, at 1 p.m. with the location yet to be determined.

Pagosa Springs Mayor and Main Street board member Shari Pierce indicated that CDOT has agreed to let the Main Street Advisory Board also be involved in that meeting.

The board also decided to cancel its June meeting, as Dufour noted there is “just not quite as much to do without the sense of urgency.”

Additionally the board addressed how many members it would have moving forward, with elections for positions set to take place in July. 

The board currently has 13 spots, but only nine are currently filled.

Haz Said mentioned that the board is “fairly effective now with nine” and that having 13 may be too many.

Board member Jeremy Martin also mentioned that he would be worried about having 13 members.