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What is the Chamber's position on paid parking in Estes?

What is the Chamber's position on paid parking in Estes?

What is the Chamber's position on paid parking in Estes?

We heard this question recently and our answer is always the same. The Chamber does not have an opinion outside of the opinions of its members. Where there is a group of members asking for a voice, the Chamber will respond on behalf of that collective voice. We know that just because a portion of our members have a strong position on a topic such as paid parking, that doesn't mean they represent all of our members. With 321 members at the time we wrote this article, the only thing the Chamber can state on paid parking is that the opinion of 30 business owners does not represent the voice of the Chamber strongly enough to constitute a position. Let us bring you up to date on the conversation.

As soon as we heard that the Town of Estes Park was planning to roll out the board-approved paid parking program (postponed one year due to the pandemic), the Chamber invited members to a focus group on March 2 to discuss the impacts on our customers and employees. We invited the Parking & Transit Manager along with the Car Park manager to attend the meeting and answer any questions our members might raise. We hoped the off-season timing would yield a healthy discussion, but only 11 members signed up. About half of those actually came to the session. Because we felt we still did not have a strong representation of member voices, we started sharing information to help the business community communicate information about parking permits, free lots and shuttle schedules. In response to that campaign we heard from several members who did not agree with the Board's vote to initiate paid parking this year, so we extended our research of the voice of members through a survey.

We've published the results of this survey a few times and have had very little conversation from members about the results, which state that 48.2% of members are in favor of paid parking and 51.5% are against it.  The problem with this pre-season survey is that we only had 56 responses. When the Town asks the Chamber's position on an issue, the only way to reflect the voice of business is through your response to our surveys. You can read the responses to this survey here. If you don't answer a survey, the data is skewed. The last question on the survey was, "Why you would survey opinions on a decision that’s already made?" Great point. What is in our sphere of control? Is there anything we can do to reverse any of the Town Board's decisions? First we needed to know the mind of our members and actual evidence of hardship from our customers. Based on the passionate response from members who oppose the system, we doubled our efforts to assemble the opinions of our members and guests to recommend solutions. Our first response was to create a point of sale survey with a QR code each merchant can post publicly to collect customer opinions with an open question: Tell us what you think about your experience in Estes Park. We welcome your gratitude and your suggestions. Here is a summary of the 47 responses:

What I love about my trip to Estes Park
Shopping at Mary Jane’s
Rocky Mountain National Park
It was not as crowded as normal
Variety. Fun atmosphere
Friendly shop owners and staff!
The town is beautiful.
RMNP Hiking.
I love being downtown and shopping as well as visiting the national park.
Friendly town
the views of the mountains
Wildlife and hiking, views, downtown Estes shops
Hiking and the outdoors
Service was excellent as was the food, very clean and pleasant atmosphere
How you can improve the visitor experience
Hello, been coming here once or twice a year for 30 years, our kids now coming with their kids. We were surprised with the paid parking lots and do not like them. They detract from our visitor experience.
Paid parking app doesn’t work well and the whole idea is unfriendly. But the reservation system is more unfriendly and very unfair! Where is the hiker shuttle? So apparently I need a car and even more $$ to get into the park?!?! How was I suppose to know about this? I came here for a spontaneous weekend trip! And I had to write this in an email because the text didn’t wrap in the google app. Sent from my iPhone
I bought a hat here a month and a half ago. During a trip to the lake it sunk. It's the all black hat with 2 strings hanging from the back. I believe I had an xl. I came to the shop today, 07/19 to see that you guys were closed. This may be a long shot but I'm asking if there's a way I could get one mailed to me in south dakota? My email is (We had to laugh at this one. If you are the store Parker is looking for, feel free to reach out!)

We've received more informal feedback, but it's hard to ascertain the voice of business without knowing that we've heard from every business. The Chamber offered to walk around downtown with Matt Eisenberg from The Car Park to get direct feedback. The comments were generally neutral and The Car Park did take action to print better signage, fix the meters that were inadvertently accepting payment after 6 p.m., extend the local permit time to 60minutes and create videos to show users to how to access the app or pay via text.

We heard from several members that these efforts still have not assuaged the frustration that some of their customers have expressed. Since we've had little progress over the summer collecting customer feedback via this QR code survey, we decided to hold a meeting for downtown business owners on August 24. Their response to the parking issue is noted in this letter to the Town Board. When the Administrator asked if this represents the opinion of the Chamber, we pointed out that this is the opinion of the people who attended the meeting on August 24. The entire membership was invited, but we do not have a response from every member. To ascertain the mind of members on this issues, we decided to engage in a door to door survey of every downtown business. Watch this blog for the results of that survey in October.

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