City to skiers: No parking at Iselin
Finding a place to park at Aspen Highlands these days is tougher than negotiating Steeplechase, and it will likely only get worse.
The parking lot down the street at the Iselin recreation complex has become the overflow parking area of choice for many Highlands loyalists, but the city is ready to put a stop to the practice.
“No Parking” signs should go up next week, according to Tim Anderson, recreation director. Stepped-up enforcement will follow, he said.
“It’s something we need to address,” agreed Jeff Woods, director of Aspen’s parks department.
Highlands lost a good chunk of day-skier parking with the construction of its new base village. A 450-space parking garage has replaced the surface parking that once accommodated about 800 vehicles at Highlands.
A spot in the garage costs $5, but is free for vehicles with three or more occupants. When the garage is full, motorists are supposed to park at Buttermilk, where there are 135 spaces available, and take a free shuttle bus to Highlands. But many skiers have instead parked at Iselin or the schools campus. Neighbors have complained that they are parking along Maroon Creek Road as well.
The overflow parking at Iselin has been a growing problem, according to Anderson. Individuals who want to swim in the city pool at Iselin are having trouble finding a place to park.
“We were getting calls and complaints today [Wednesday], in fact, from pool patrons,” he said.
Once the city builds its planned new recreation facility at Iselin Park, which will include a new Aspen Youth Center, two swimming pools and a hockey rink, it won’t want its parking lot taken over by Highlands skiers and boarders, Woods said.
“It’s something we obviously don’t want to encourage once our new facility is built,” he said. “Our feeling is, we’re going to need that parking for our own facility.”
The Iselin lot will be expanded from about 50 spaces to 120 spaces as part of that project. Construction is expected to begin in the spring.
“Once we start construction, there’s not going to be parking there anyway,” Anderson said.
If, with the Iselin lot off-limits, Highlands traffic turns to the nearby Aspen schools campus for parking, the school district is prepared to make some money off the practice, according to Superintendent Tom Farrell.
The district is prepared to charge a parking fee if significant numbers of skiers and boarders start using the campus lots, he said.
“We actually have talked about it. If the time comes when they’re doing that, we would charge for it,” Farrell said.
The city may need to post a staffer at the Iselin lot, at least after the new recreation complex is open, to shoo away skiers and boarders who look for a parking spot there, Woods said.
In the meantime, officials with the city, Pitkin County and the school district have been discussing parking in general in the Maroon Creek corridor.
Residents of the area are pressing for enforcement action to keep motorists from parking on the road.
Powder days and other big events produce a line of cars along the roadside, according to Meadowood resident King Woodward.
“The question is, what do you do about parking, because the county won’t tow people?” he said.
The county did post “No Parking” signs along the road, but they have been ineffective, according to Stan Berryman, county director of public works.
The county, he noted, has jurisdiction of the road though the city has annexed much of the property along it between Highway 82 and Highlands.
The Highlands subdivision, Meadowood and the schools campus remain in the county, while Highlands Village, the new Moore subdivision and Iselin are part of the city.
City and county staffers are discussing various options to deal with parking enforcement on the road, according to Randy Ready, assistant city manager.
The most effective solution, he noted, may be a centralized scheduling effort by one entity to make sure large events aren’t taking place at the schools campus and Iselin, for example, at the same time.
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Pitkin County Health Department has put together a “Frequently Asked Questions” guideline for its new Traveler Affidavit Requirement, which starts Dec. 14.