Aspen offers free Friday parking this month |

Aspen offers free Friday parking this month

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO Colorado
Aspen Times fileThere's no need to feed the meters on Fridays in downtown Aspen this month. Parking on Fridays is free.

ASPEN – Don’t worry about feeding the city of Aspen parking meters on Fridays this month.

The City Council has decided to implement a free parking program every Friday in May. This includes on-street parking in the downtown core as well as residential neighborhoods. Notices will be posted on meters around town and the pay-by-phone system will be programmed to inform callers that no fee is required on May 6, 13, 20 and 27.

“This is a real issue for the retailers and businesses in the core. I support this program of free parking in the off-season,” said interim Councilwoman Ruth Kruger.

Parking already is free on Saturdays in the off-seasons in addition to Sundays all year long.

The impetus for the free-Fridays-in-May program was to try to encourage more commerce in the commercial district as well as inspire locals to enjoy downtown amenities during the offseason.

“My thought is to encourage some downtown business and not slap a local with a ticket during these slow times,” said Councilman Torre.

The budget impact on the city is expected to be a $30,000 loss. May represents about 6 percent of annual gross parking revenues and the lowest volume of traffic and parking in the city.

City staffers are collecting parking data in order to determine if free Fridays will affect the local economy.

ASPEN – March retail sales in Aspen totaled $58.52 million, a 7.4 percent increase over the $54.46 million in sales recorded for the same month last year, according to the city’s latest consumption tax report.

In fact, retail and lodging sales within the city through the first three months of this year outpaced the 2010 January-to-March period by 3.6 percent, rising from $160.74 million to $166.45 million, the report states.

Sales categories that fared well in March include: tourist accommodations, up 5 percent; restaurants and bars, up 7 percent; sports equipment, up 7 percent; clothing, up 17 percent; and specialty retail, up 22 percent.

City of Aspen Finance Director Don Taylor wrote in a memorandum to the City Council that the report suggests Aspen’s economy is improving. Sales tax collections in the first three months of this year are 4 percent higher compared with the same period in 2010, he said.

ASPEN – The detour on Highway 82 at Aspen’s Castle Creek Bridge, which was to be lifted Wednesday, will continue for the rest of the week after progress on the bridge work was slowed by the weather last week, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Crews will maintain the full-time, 24-hour detour this week for downvalley traffic while work on the upvalley bridge abutment continues.

The downvalley traffic detour is expected to remain in place, full-time, through Friday. It is also likely to be in place through the weekend, as is typical. On Monday, the regular detour schedule will resume, with traffic detoured after 9 a.m. until early evening on weekdays, through May 26. The 24-hour detour will remain on weekends.

Upvalley traffic will remain on the bridge, but experience delays due to periodic traffic stops for construction equipment, buses and other large vehicles using the bridge. There will be some periodic traffic stops on weekends.

ASPEN – A Family Fun Day at the Aspen Recreation Center – offering free admission for all parents and children going to the center together – will be held Saturday.

It’s sponsored by the city of Aspen, Pitkin County Health and Human Services, Kids First Child Care Resource Center, The Buddy Program and the Aspen Youth Center. Festivities include: mascots, swimming, ice skating, rock climbing, face painting, scavenger hunt, field games, prizes and more.

The event is designed to mark the beginning of a joint community goal toward creating a healthy community.

Call 544-4100 for more information.

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