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Letter to the Town Board and Parking & Transit on behalf of Estes Chamber Downtown Alliance

Letter to the Town Board and Parking & Transit on behalf of Estes Chamber Downtown Alliance

Letter to the Town Board and Parking & Transit on behalf of Estes Chamber Downtown Alliance

Dear Mayor Koenig, Trustees and Town Administrator Machalek, Parking & Transit --

Thank you for your service to our community. As promised in previous meetings with Administrator Machalek, The Estes Chamber is making it a high priority to bring industry leaders to the table to unify the voice of business, especially as the Town develops the Comprehensive Plan. In the first of many efforts to aggregate the voice of business leaders, the Chamber formed a Downtown Alliance of 19 Chamber members on Tuesday, August 24, at The Sandwich Mafia, representing an even balance of East and West Elkhorn merchants and restaurants.

The primary outcome of this meeting is to notify the Town Board that many members of this downtown body disagree with the presentation Parking & Transit made to the Board on August 10. It’s our intention to make sure that members of the business community who feel underrepresented have a clear voice with Town officials as it relates to the impact of the paid parking program on our downtown business community. Online surveys that we have issued in the past have not represented even a third of our membership. To make sure every voice is heard, this body is conducting a door-to-door survey of the business community (Chamber members and non-members like) to provide the Town with a comprehensive report that the Chamber can present with integrity as “the voice of business.”

With that report you will find a request for this Board to consider our recommendations to alleviate the burden of this program on downtown business owners, including but not limited to: 

  • Many in the room at our initial meeting asked if we can discontinue the paid parking program altogether;
  • Close the paid parking program season in September instead of October;
  • Express written notification that there is no intention to extend this program past the summer season:
  • Reimbursement for private lot signage;
  • Designation of funds to build more parking downtown; and
  • Greater subsidy or reimbursement of employee parking fees.
In the interest of capturing the response of the entire business community, the Estes Chamber has posted a survey link on our home page at where we can capture the minds of those not participating in the door-to-door downtown survey. As the voice of business grows in Estes Park (by September our members will have nearly tripled), the Estes Chamber will continue to build trust with you, Town staff and our members in belief that each of us wants what’s best to make Estes Park a great place to live, work and play.

With Sincere Regards,
Donna Carlson
Executive Director
Phone: (970) 480-7552 
Direct: (719) 209-9900
533 Big Thompson Ave, Ste. 103 

Downtown Alliance Agenda August 24, 2021
  • Comprehensive Planning
  • Paid Parking
    • Paid employee parking
    • Rebate on private lot signage
    • Shorter season for paid parking if not cancellation of the contract due to renew in December
    • Longer local parking provision: 30 minutes at the post office is rarely enough
    • Wayfinding signage
  • West End lighting to make evening shopping and dining accessible and safe from West End lodging into town and to attract visitors to the West End after construction of The Loop.
    • How many merchants have agreed to extend hours past dark after the lighting is installed?
    • How late do you propose keeping the lighting on? 10 p.m., 11 p.m.?
    • Can you provide a short paragraph on how we are pitching the West End of Elkhorn as a historic district?
    • Do merchants on East Elkhorn and Moraine consider the West End to be a historic district, or do we need raise the conversation to get their collaboration? To be clear, we’re not seeking permission but trying to make sure all downtown merchants are speaking from the same script.
    • Are there any apartments or lofts impacted who need to agree with this?
    • Have we spoken with the inns and merchants on Fall River about enhancing the lighting on the path to town? (Luke Kearns with Fall River Village told us that his guest have mentioned that we need to supplement that lighting.)
Downtown Meeting Recap August 24, 2021
Present: Donna Carlson, Carissa Streib (Simply Christmas), Sara Rohwedder (Aspen and Evergreen), Claudine Perrault and Kathleen (Estes Valley Library) , Natalie Patrick (Inspired Artisan), Marla Truitt (Joy House), Morgan Bard (The Highland Bard), Steve, Ann and Cindy Taylor (Colorado Homestead), Karen Jirsa (Village Goldsmith), Megan (The Sandwich Mafia), Mark Igel (The Taffy Shop), Richie (MochaAngelos), Cory Clifton (Mountain Blown Glass), Jess McGee (Omnibus), Ben Ferguson (Hyk), Sabir Shrestha (Lonigans)
Opening Comments
The Chamber is the voice of business. We cannot do our job without your voice on the Comprehensive Plan, on Paid Parking and on how we want to advocate for business.
Discussion on Paid Parking
The discussion on paid parking started with the Chamber’s report of a survey we issued in March that reported 49%.2 of members in favor of paid parking and 50.8% opposed. We noted that the problem in calling that “the voice of business” is that only 57 members took the survey – not even a third of our membership. For that reason, the only way for us to represent the voice of business on paid parking is to conduct our own primary research. Carissa Streib, Vice Chair of the Estes Chamber Board, is taking the initiative to conduct that survey and the Chamber will aggregate the results in a report to the Town Board in response to the August 10 Parking & Transit presentation.
Comments from the meeting included:
  • Is there room in the contract to consider not moving forward with paid parking?
  • The Town’s commitment to audit downtown parking year-round rouses the fear that there is some interest in making paid parking a year-round program. We have yet to ascertain the opinions of the entire downtown business community, but the business owners in attendance at this alliance meeting would not be in favor of year-round paid parking. This group is in fact not in favor of paid parking in Estes at all because they suspect there will be slow drop in front range visitors over time. One way we might use that revenue is a study to ascertain the percentage of downtown visitors vacationing at RMNP versus day visitors coming just to shop.
  • Is there a plan for the revenue from this program? The business community would like a voice in determining how those dollars might be allocated, possibly including but not limited to
    • Better lighting on the West end of Town
    • Reimbursements to private lot owners for signage expenses
    • More parking downtown
    • Wayfinding signage
The Chamber formed this alliance to make sure the voice of business is heard in forums where decisions will impact our business community. Many members of the business community have the impression that the Town is making decisions directly opposed to business. This is diametrically opposed to the fact that sales tax funds the operations and salaries that keep the Town running and opposite of the sentiments that Chamber leadership is hearing from top leaders with the Town. We feel the responsibility to bridge the gaps between perception and reality and to make sure that it’s clear to the Town Board that our business owners and employees are the people who live here too.


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