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Manitou implements parking plan for busy summer

Plans don't call for meters on downtown streets

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Manitou Springs residents worried about paying to park on several major streets in their city don't need to start collecting change just yet. Steps are being taken to improve parking during the busy summer months, but current plans don't include parking meters.

Complicating the planning is the fact that Manitou has two departments managing parking. The Metropolitan District owns the Wichita lot (708 Manitou Ave.) and the new Smischny lot (1134 Manitou Ave.). The city owns the Cañon lot (135 Cañon Ave.) and the Prospect lot (833 Prospect Place).

"I think we are working together really well right now, but they are completely separate organizations," says Mayor Marc Snyder.

Both the Metro District and the city are implementing new parking plans to make space for tourists during the busy summer season. The Metro District's plan is already in place. The new Smischny lot, while not entirely finished, is open for business. "Our intention always was to use it more as an employee permit parking lot and then if people want to park in there and pay, we certainly will take the money," says Metro District President Dave Symonds.

They certainly may need the money. While building the lot, workers ran into tubes in the ground connected to one or more underground tanks. "We found them, and it's our take that they're on Colorado Department of Transportation property," says Symonds.

Cost estimates for removal range between $20,000 and $30,000. "We really don't know what the actual cost would be because we don't know what size tanks they are," says Symonds.

Construction of the new lot cost over $200,000, including a pond to treat water runoff from the parking lot before it enters Fountain Creek.

Permits for the Smischny lot cost $75 for six months. Short-term parking is available for $1 an hour or $5 for all day.

The Metro District has created a new summer parking plan for the Wichita lot, at the east end of the main business district. Parking permits are not being sold for daytime hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) in order to create more parking for visitors. Like the Smischny lot, short-term parking is $1 an hour or $5 for the entire day.

"PM" permits, valid from 4 p.m. to 10 a.m., can be purchased for $15.

"We wanted to have [the lot] for our visiting tourists to park, so we're asking employees to park further out," says Symonds.

Free parking is available at the high school, and the Cog Railway is running a free shuttle from the school into town. There is also free parking available around Manitou's Memorial Park.

The city is implementing a similar plan for the Cañon lot starting July 1 — 26 spaces have been set aside for short-term parking, $1 an hour or $5 all day, or the same "PM" passes for $15.

The other 20 spaces in the Cañon lot are permit spaces, but according to planning assistant Kari Kilroy, there is a waiting list for these $120 annual permits.

Permits for the Prospect lot are $30 and are good any time. Permits in all lots are good for the rest of 2010.

Beyond the summer months, parking meters aren't out of the picture yet.

"I haven't made up my own mind, to tell you the truth, about the advisability or desirability of paid parking on Manitou and Cañon avenues. I really don't know what is best yet," says Snyder. "I'm really curious to see how this new parking lot system works for the rest of the summer, and I think we'll have a better picture at that time."

lea@csindy.com

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