Parking study extended, town opts for outside consultant for downtown

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Nothing yet is set in stone with regard to parking (or the much-debated paid parking topic) as town leaders opted last week to stick with consultants Kimley-Horn for a second round of study.

Kimley-Horn recently completed Project 1 – Parking Management Plan for Residential and Commercial Areas outside of the Downtown Core. The company provided parking and zoning policy direction for each subarea in Character District 3-6 of the Comprehensive Plan for a fee of $74,525.

At its regular meeting last week, the town council opted to re-contract with Kimley-Horn for Project 2 – Downtown Core Parking Study for an amount not to exceed $79,710.

Given feedback from some downtown merchants concerned about paid parking has already started to hit the inboxes of electeds, the council in general preferred to proceed cautiously with some exceptions.

How they voted

Councilman Don Frank questioned the ongoing cost of doing public outreach and feedback gathering he felt could be done in-house.

“In my mind when we hire consultants they should become teachers to us and we should become self-sufficient. Whenever I read one of these consulting agreements it seems to me we are learning over and over again about outreach that we could do internally. It just seems like we spend a lot of money having somebody else setting up the tables and booths and open the door,” Frank said. “I’m a fiduciary, and we save dollars ten dimes at a time. I’m just leery of this particular expense.”

But town/county planning director Tyler Sinclair said a big reason to go with an outside consultant was his in-house staff was about maxed to the limit at the moment with several ongoing long-range planning efforts.

Jim Stanford preferred an open-minded approach that made no predetermined assumptions. “Let’s get the facts, let’s have a robust process, and then, together, we’ll try to craft a robust policy that’s going to work best going forward,” he said.

Hailey Morton Levinson and Bob Lenz were both comfortable with a full round of study spearheaded by Kimley-Horn for the downtown core.

Mayor Pete Muldoon was on board with that as well, taking the opportunity to remind all constituents that even though it was him who brought up the idea of a paid parking system downtown, he was still listening and learning.

“I would like to reiterate the point that I don’t think any one of us is presupposing an outcome here. I think the outreach part is very important,” Muldoon said. “In talking with people about parking for quite some time now I’ve heard some interesting ideas out there and I hope that people do show up for the outreach events because we do learn from feedback especially from downtown business owners who are out there dealing with these issues every day. I’ve learned some very interesting things about parking from them. They have a lot to contribute to the conversation.”

Frank came aboard in the end to fill out a unanimous vote, stating, “I’m going to support this and remove my reluctance on the 2b item ($12,100 slated specifically for outreach support).”

The Downtown Core Parking Study will be based on parking counts done in late August 2017. In addition to analyzing those counts, Kimley-Horn and the town plan to reach out to stakeholders to identify the current strengths and weaknesses of the downtown parking system, and also the perceived opportunities and threats from paid parking or other alternate parking systems. Based on this quantitative and qualitative data, the town council would provide direction on the purpose of downtown parking. Based on that direction, Kimley-Horn will recommend a downtown parking management program for implementation in summer 2018.

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