We park at the parking garage and walk toward town. My daughter runs from one musical instrument to the next as we stroll along looking for snakes hiding in the grass. We stop at Kind Coffee to grab a breakfast burrito and sit on the patio chairs, greeting our friends as they walk by.
We bike to town with the girls in the trailer, stopping to walk them along the river walk. We slowly move along, waiting for my oldest daughter to play at the pocket park. Eventually we get to the brewery and order some chicken wings from a favorite food truck before heading back home to beat the rain.
We love our downtown. We rarely drive through downtown in the summer, but we do to access it on bikes or walking. Our downtown is beautiful and the centerpiece for our entire community. Many business owners have created unique, successful business that contribute to our town. As we grow and adapt to changes in our town, how are we addressing the concerns of our community members, business owners, and visitors? Can we address the concerns of everyone to make everyone happy? Probably not, but we can all work together toward a solution.
The Downtown Parking Management Plan was created by the Downtown Parking Management Plan Task Force, a collaboration between the consultant, the Transportation Advisory Board and the Downtown Plan Steering Committee. This plan is a multi-phase plan that uses quantifiable data to monitor each phase. The plan has phases that include paid parking in certain portions of the downtown area, shuttle use, and parking lot enforcement.
Way finding signage for drivers and pedestrians are vital to a thriving downtown. What message are we telling people as they access our downtown? Do our streets and downtown culture incentivize people to bike, or walk? With proper signage, visitors will not have to circle downtown to figure out where they can park. Safe, well identified bike lanes through downtown that are connected to the other bike trails in town will encourage alternate transportation to driving. Expanding on our pedestrian friendly areas and providing signage of these areas will build upon the downtown atmosphere and increase positive visitor experience.
Buses and Shuttles
Again, what message are we telling visitors and residents when it comes to using our bus and shuttle system? More efficient planning of our bus and shuttle routes will result in more locals and visitors using them. It's difficult for residents to use the bus system, because stops are often not ideal for what they're hoping to access. To take a bus 45 minutes to get to Safeway will not incentivize individuals to use the bus rather than driving. Buses with bike racks would allow for residents to access downtown from outlying neighborhoods and travel through downtown without needing a car at all.
Shuttles that run during shift hours and connect workforce housing to downtown businesses would alleviate some of the dependency on parking. See how these issues are all interdependent?
Flood Plain Mapping
Our climate is changing and with that, we will have more frequent flooding events. The flood of 2013 was considered by many experts to be greater than the "100 year flood", which actually means there's a statistical 1% annual chance that a flooding event will inundate the area (plain). Events like this are a huge threat to our town. As they happen more frequently, our downtown infrastructure must be updated to be able to sustain these events and relieve the burden of rising insurance costs on our downtown core and lodging properties located along the river corridors. The Moraine Avenue Bridge is the first step towards a solution that will significantly improve the flow capacity through downtown. The new Flood Hazard map will be more accurate in planning for these events, however we must understand the implications that will have on the businesses.
Arts and culture should be woven throughout our entire town, highlighting our cultural diversity, rich history, and mountain lifestyle. Our town is full of gifted artists that contribute to the culture of our town through their music and artistic creations. Celebrating these artists is what brings our community together as a whole, to thrive and prosper. Unique experiences will separate us from other mountain towns and identifying with what makes us unique and building on that will encourage a prosperous community.
Estes Park downtown is a rich staple in our community that provides economic value to our town. One of my favorite things to do is see old photos of downtown and compare them to what our downtown looks like now. As downtown continues to grow, we must prepare for change and growth with proper planning. The Town of Estes Park has Advisory Boards, professionals, master plans, and committees all working on this vision. Strong leadership is necessary to bring all these together to envision a prosperous Estes Park for the future.