By DAN FOX
Changes to a set of proposed parking reform measures continue to happen as the subject bounces between its respective committee meetings and the Borough Assembly’s table.
A resolution revamping parking procedures for the downtown corridor was brought to the table at the April 5 and April 19 assembly meetings, and was sent back to committee both times.
At the April 5 meeting, a handful of citizens and business owners spoke out against various things in the resolution.
Tobias Parsons, co-owner of the Sweet Tooth, said then that he thinks the resolution would cost him money and business from independent travelers coming down the Klondike Highway or driving off the ferry.
Business owner and former Mayor Tim Bourcy said there is no signage when coming into town that tells visitors where parking is available.
“People are coming in with their big rigs or whatever they are doing, and there’s no place to send them, and in the rest of the world that exists,” Bourcy said. “Whatever we do with regards to parking, we need to make it more user-friendly for the people that are coming into town.”
In addition to the potential impact on business owners, others spoke about the effects parking changes could have on residents. Lisa Hollander said there should be an allowance made for building owners and people whose primary residence is in the downtown corridor.
Colette Hisman said parking is a “nightmare situation, just in the fact that nobody ever knows what to do about it.”
“I think that if something’s not broke, don’t fix it,” Hisman said. “I think that if you make 20-minute parking on Broadway and push people out to the residential areas, then you’re hurting the residential areas.”
More tourists and accompanying traffic are projected to arrive on Skagway’s streets in upcoming years, and several at the assembly table commented on the need for change.
“I’m sure everybody’s looked at the [cruise ship] schedule, we have 10,000 passenger Tuesdays, 11,000 passenger Wednesdays, 10,000 passenger Thursdays,” Assembly Member Tim Cochran said. “We have four-ship Sundays, and it’s only going to get worse next year, and even worse the year after.”
Cochran said the proposed parking plan was a good start, and that in the future there may be more traffic “vying for this area,” and that streamlining the flow of traffic would help.
To help residents living in the downtown district, Assembly Member Steve Burnham Jr. suggested issuing parking permits to downtown area residents.
Burnham also pointed out that many communities deal with parking in congested areas by charging with parking meters and that “we’re trying really hard not to do that.”
“When you have no room for parking, you charge for it, and we’re providing parking lots and we’re trying to keep the spaces on the public streets free, although limited,” Burnham said.
Comments at the April 19 assembly meeting were along the same vein as on April 5, with the assembly ultimately voting to put it back once more to the next joint Public Safety/Civic Affairs committee meeting on April 23.
A number of amendments were made before this occurred, however, including approval of one that would allow the municipality to provide free parking permits to residents 65 years and older, as well as year-round residents living on Broadway and First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth or Sixth avenues.
When discussion was engaged yet again at the April 23 meeting of the Public Safety/Civic Affairs committees, talks veered in a number of directions with multiple parties making suggestions. Ultimately, at the end of the meeting a suggestion was made to make parking on Broadway one hour, excepting loading and S.M.A.R.T. Shuttle zones, and uniformly make all parking on the side streets two hours – again with the noted exceptions.
Cochran said after the April 23 meeting he thinks he will make that proposal at the next assembly meeting. The assembly will take up the topic again at its next meeting on May 3.
As the resolution is currently written (not taking into account any changes that may be proposed on May 3) the suggested changes to parking would make most of Broadway’s parking into 20-minute zones, with one-hour parking between Third and Fourth avenues. The side streets are a mix of different time limits, but generally feature 20-minute parking on the north side and two-hour parking on the south side of the street, with a few exceptions and loading zones scattered throughout.