Basalt parking: What’s the angle?
January 24, 2007
BASALT To some people in Basalt, angle parking on the street in front of the post office is an effective way to “calm” traffic that might otherwise speed by. To others, angle parking is an irritating failure.Town officials are sorting through the opinions as they consider whether to encourage other developers to incorporate angled parking into their projects in the bustling town.At first blush, angled parking might seem like a minor point for a Town Council scheduled to review at least a half dozen major development projects this year. But at a joint meeting of the council and its advisory planning commission this week, officials agreed that traffic and parking will be pivotal issues during the reviews.Traffic emerged as a topic of concern Tuesday night when the boards discussed a proposed project called the Basalt Design District project, south of Big O Tires. Developers Clay Crossland, Paul Adams and Michael Lipkin proposed 40 residences, 81,000 square feet of mini-storage space, 70,000 square feet of light industrial businesses and 20,000 square feet of offices. The project would require 400 parking spaces, 111 of them on-street and potentially angled.
That angled parking would be along South Side Drive, the lone route serving Basalt High School.”I look at that as potentially just chaos,” said Councilman Gary Tennenbaum.Gary Wheeler, a town planning commissioner, questioned the effectiveness of angled parking as a traffic-calming tool in some parts of town.”I’m not convinced it works at the post office,” he said.
Like Tennenbaum, he has reservations about placing it along the route to the high school. “I think it’s a disaster waiting to happen,” Wheeler said.Midland Avenue was extended south of downtown and over the Roaring Fork River to serve the post office when it was built in the late 1990s. Town officials designed the street so people pulled in at an angle in front of the facility.Some drivers curse that decision because vehicles leaving the post office must back into traffic that is departing Basalt. Councilman Glenn Rappaport defended the design and said he believes it will work well – like in downtown Basalt – as the post office area is fully developed. Right now drivers pop over the Roaring Fork River bridge and step on the gas because of the perception they are out of town. As more development occurs, the traffic-calming there will be useful, Rappaport said.Lipkin, speaking for the Basalt Design District developers, urged the council not to design neighborhoods to accommodate vehicles fully. Planning too much around cars leads to the kind of suburban development evident all across the country, he said.
Planning commission member Bernie Grauer said he supports using angled parking to calm traffic, even if it doesn’t calm drivers. He said it is effective.Councilman Chris Seldin also endorsed angled parking along South Side Drive, despite the challenges young drivers present.”The only concern is if it’s even possible to calm high school students,” he quipped.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.