Casper City Council Mulls Parking Solutions for Downtown
Resolving downtown parking issues is going somewhere in Casper, but like waiting for someone to pull out of a space, it seems like it will take a while.
"We don't need that direction tonight," City Manager Carter Napier told the Casper City Council during a work session Tuesday.
A parking policy isn't so much about spaces for vehicles, but for enhancing downtown for residents, businesses and visitors, Casper Development Director Liz Becher and Casper Police Chief Keith McPheeters told the council.
Part of the solution would be to encourage employees of downtown businesses to use the parking garage. When employees park in the spaces close to their businesses, that discourages people who want to visit those businesses.
Becher and McPheeters said one solution would be to bring back parking meters on some streets. They would encourage people to visit, take care of business or eat at a restaurant, and then move on.
Metered parking would end at 6 p.m. to encourage people to come downtown, McPheeters said.
Parking technology has evolved far beyond plunking change in a meter and turning a knob. It now includes the use of credit cards and other payment methods, he added.
Becher said parking meters would pay for themselves in 15 months.
The council's discussion followed the recommendations of a study done by Kimley-Horn and Associates to study the city's parking assets and develop a parking plan for downtown and the Old Yellowstone District that identified short- and long-term goals.
The study completed last year found that the city does not have a parking supply problem even during peak demand periods, according to the agenda for the work session.
Instead, it found Casper needs expertise, a parking manager or management firm, and a plan to better use what the city has.
City Manager Carter Napier said he didn't agree with some of the major findings.
"I am not enamored by the idea of a parking department," Napier said.
Kimly-Horn also recommended the establishment of a separate "enterprise fund" and dedicated parking-related revenues to support the fund; investment in new technology for customers, operations, and financial performance; creation of a schedule to restore and maintain parking facilities; promote transportation alternatives; and include parking management in larger discussions about proposed development projects.
The Metropolitan Planning Organization, working with other plans and studies, also recommended parking meters to improve parking turnover and use of the garage between Center and Wolcott streets; better parking enforcement; consider improving street design and signage.
Several council members didn't like the idea of installing parking meters or pushing employees of downtown businesses to use the parking garage.
Ken Bates said that using the garage, even with the cheapest $14 monthly rate to park on the roof could be a hardship for struggling families.
Council decided to not press for further action on the issue because three council members -- Mayor Charlie Powell, Ray Pacheco and Steve Cathey -- were not present.
They will revisit the parking issue at the Oct. 22 work session.