Basalt City Market gets a gong for traffic mess | AspenTimes.com

Basalt City Market gets a gong for traffic mess

BASALT – If the Basalt City Market competed as a contestant on an old TV talent show, it would have been gonged, according to members of the Town Council.

Town officials urged City Market on Tuesday night to improve a traffic circulation problem that has confounded shoppers for the last four years.

When vehicles pull into the main entrance to City Market on East Valley Road, closest to Willits Lane, they are confronted with large, red “Wrong Way” signs and forced to make a 90-degree turn to the right to avoid going the wrong way on a one-way road.

“It’s not really very navigable,” Councilwoman Jacque Whitsitt told City Market representatives. “If there’s somebody coming the other way, you have to back up.”

Council members noted that some frustrated motorists simply go the wrong way on the one-way entrance to the parking lot. They proceed straight, onto the one-way street, rather than making the sharp turn.

“That entrance, for lack of a better description, is ‘The Gong Show,'” said Councilman Pete McBride. He referred to a bizarre, short-lived TV talent show from the 1970s and ’80s where judges banged gongs to get failing contestants off the stage.

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City Market wants to improve its performance. Carl Schmidlein, a planning and engineering consultant for the grocer, said his firm would look into peeling back the curb and some of the landscaping to make that turn more manageable for traffic. The sharpness of the 90-degree turn could be decreased, he said.

Talk of one-way streets, traffic circulation and “The Gong Show” arose during a public hearing held on City Market’s proposal to increase the size of its parking lot. Dillon Real Estate Co., doing business as City Market, wants to pave a vacant, dirt lot on the southeast side of the building that houses Zheng, New York Pizza and R.J. Paddywacks. The area has turned into overflow parking and is often a dusty or muddy mess.

“It’s a derelict area,” Brian McNellis, Basalt senior planner, told the council.

City Market officials said paving the dirt lot will add 38 spaces. The council members were all for that. City Market will would retain the approvals to build retail space at the site at a future date.

Traffic and circulation in the parking lot have been a problem since City Market expanded by 9,000 square feet to a total of about 61,500 square feet in 2006. Parking that existed on the south side of the grocery store, mostly used by employees, was eliminated. City Market reconfigured its main lot, which has 268 spaces, at the time of the expansion. Customers have been grousing ever since.

Schmidlein said City Market wants to pave the additional spaces and possibly improve the sharp corner this fall.

scondon@aspentimes.com