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The Sept. 25 Buena Vista Trustee meeting included an extended discussion regarding parking spaces for Main Street businesses. Staff asked for and received a motion to support steps to develop options for increasing parking. The discussion included visuals documenting parking now in use on railroad property, ways to structure the space to get more parking spaces from the same area, and whether the town should consider code changes to allow overnight parking.

“We’ve modified our code to allow for less parking on vacant lots, so we thought this might be an idea to modify the parking we do have, to be more efficient with what we’ve got,” said Town Planner Mark Doering. “We’re looking at the areas on the north and south side of East Main – on the west side of Railroad Street between East Main and Chestnut and Cedar Street. We’ve had a lease from the railroad since 1977. Then, it was $50 a year. Now it costs $250 a year. If we talk with them, it could rise.”

Parking is still free in Buena Vista, and technically there is no overnight parking in downtown lots. Discussion included the need to modify the town’s code to make sure that if changes are made to allow people to leave cars overnight (for people who live in downtown apartments, for instance), that people aren’t parking campers overnight in town parking areas.

“We know we have to plan for future growth, but the thing is, we want to keep downtown looking like downtown,” said Doering. “We have diagonal parking on Main Street. We have charging stations for electric cars.” He went on to point out that parking lots get packed during summer supporting businesses on East Main Street, that people live in downtown apartments. The lots fill when the town hosts day events, and nights when there are musical groups at the Lariat.

“We are going to have to consider where are people going to park if we are going to have more mixed-use downtown,” said Doering, who added that Buena Vista has made some physical improvements to lots on railroad property and is currently seeing businesses develop their own solutions to parking shortages.

“We haven’t authorized any of the signs that businesses are putting up that say ‘no parking.’ We the town, own the parking downtown, not the businesses,” said Doering. “I know of several areas where people are illegally posting in areas that are actually public parking. How do we deal with those people putting up their own signs?”

“We shouldn’t allow those signs,” said Trustee Libby Fay. “Couldn’t we at least have a free permit for those who live in downtown … so they get something to put on their dashboard?”

“The key to me is to restrict the RV parking  – allow no overnight RV parking. We don’t want them on Main Street,” said Mayor Duff Lacy.

“Let’s optimize what we’ve got to use for parking now,” said Trustee Lawanna Best. “Let’s make it look nicer and get more parking out of it.”

Staff received approval to explore ways to add more parking spaces in downtown, such as adding a row of parking along railroad land, perhaps not in a diagonal pattern; adding some asphalt and re-striping the current diagonals to different patterns; and creating a special parking area for big campers and trailers so they don’t take up regular spaces.