Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. A large auger bit into the pavement on First Street Monday morning, stirring up clouds of dust. Nederland Public Works employees then hand shoveled out the dirt, preparing a hole for the cement buckets that will hold Two Hour Parking Limit signs.
It was a somewhat historic event as Nederland has not had limited time parking before. The installation of the signs is just one thing on a list of traffic changes that will occur over the summer and Nederland Marshall Paul Carrill wants residents to be aware of the improvements that will take place.
Carrill says in the three years since he has been here, business owners, employees, shoppers, residents and just about everyone has complained about the parking problems in town, specifically on First Street. The free parking slots in the main business section have been abused.
“Parking didn’t used to be a priority for the department,” says Carrill, “But recently the issue has come to a head. Whether it is tenants or businesses or employees, people have gotten into the habit of parking for eight to 10 hours. The spots don’t get turned over and the businesses don’t get the foot traffic, just the drive byes.”
The Nederland Police Department got involved when they realized that the parking issue was affecting the quality of life and public safety concerns. The NPD has the authority to implement minor changes in the town traffic flow.
Those issues include people parking for too long in one spot, parking in front of fire hydrants, in crosswalks, on the sidewalk and in delivery zones. In other words, if the space was open, it was fair game.
Beginning on June 1 and continuing through August 1, the Town of Nederland and the police department are conducting a test to gather data which will help them come up with a solution for First Street parking. During each shift, an officer will record, either by chalking or video, vehicles that park for more than two hours and they will issue tickets to those exceeding the limit. This testing is predicated on a constancy of calls for service.
“We figured two hours was a reasonable amount of time for someone to eat, have a drink, shop and then rotate the parking,” says Carrill.
On First Street, 29 parking slots will be designated with two-hour time limits. This does not include handicapped parking. In collaboration with CDOT, the town will also be adding “No Parking” signs in abused areas.
The Third Street lane behind the Kwik Mart will be closed off to traffic because of the shortcut used by speeders who look to get past the roundabout, creating a hazard for the residents.
In July, new pedestrian crossings will be created, three of which, at the entrances into town, will include flashing lights, warning drivers that they are entering a pedestrian heavy zone and to slow down and be aware of people crossing the highway. A crosswalk will be put up at the library and at Navajo, across from the community center, making it safer for Nederland Elementary School students walking from school to town. Each of these crosswalks will include CDOT approved pedestrian crossing signs.
“It will be a busy summer of improvement, not necessarily change, for the driving population,” says Carrill.
It will be an expensive proposition, paying for the officer to spend the time collecting objective data during the two-month testing period. With that data, the town and the Downtown Development Authority can make a decision on what direction they want to proceed; to install parking kiosks, parking meters, or signs, or get rid of limited parking altogether.
Carrill also wants to remind residents that free, unlimited parking is available at several places within walking distance of town: the fisherman’s parking lot at the end of First Street; Chipeta Park and the Visitor’s Center parking.
The fine for parking violations will be: $75 for timed parking, $7 for crosswalk parking, $7 for fire hydrant parking, $215 for disabled parking, as well as a $35 court fee and a $30 police surcharge.