Cripple Creek Gets Real About Downtown Parking

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By Beth Dodd:

When Cripple Creek’s streets were first mapped out in the 1890s, the town founders never imagined making room for casino buses, delivery trucks, and fire engines. Today these vehicles are important considerations in possible new parking plans for Bennett Ave.

As Cripple Creek wraps up its main street makeover, locals are working with the town council on a block-by-block parking plan. In a second parking plan work session held by the city council on December 17, ideas for using street space effectively while maintaining safety were discussed. The real needs of the small businesses and casinos downtown were identified and will be taken into account as the plan comes together.

Some people have wondered whether the proposed parking plan could mean drastically reduced parking along the main drag, and long walks or shuttle bus rides from remote parking lots. However, Cripple Creek’s City Clerk Debbie Blevins said that less than ten parking spaces will be eliminated from the downtown area. No new parking spaces are planned, but neither are paid parking meters, a move that has proved unpopular with the locals in Manitou Springs.

According to Blevins, the parking plan is still a work in progress. Before any changes are finalized, they will have to be discussed officially in a city council meeting. Any parking ordinance changes will have to be voted on.

In the meanwhile, the city welcomes your comments about parking along Bennett Ave. You can email your suggestions to Public Works Director, Jim Blasing at jblasing@cripple-creek.co.us.

Based on the recent discussions, the new parking map might include the following changes:

The 200 block of Bennett Ave is the home of the Century and Triple Crown Casinos. On the south and west end of the block some auto parking spaces may be removed. This will make room for loading and unloading buses in front of these casinos.

As it is now, it is difficult for buses coming around the corner to pull in parallel to the curb when cars are present, which creates a safety concern for both passing cars and bus passengers. A bus space has also been proposed in front of Bronco Billy’s Casino. Car parking would still be available on the rest of the block.

Farther up the street on the 300 block by City Hall, two 15 minute short-term parking spaces have been suggested. This would facilitate deliveries to City Hall without blocking the street. The rest of the block would be regular car parking without a time limit.

The 400 block of Bennett Ave already has a bus unloading area in front of the Double Eagle Casino, and it has been suggested that the unlimited car parking on the rest of the block be kept as is.

Around the corner on 4th Street, the angled parking by the side of the Elks Club would be limited to the west side of the street. At the present time, when there are cars parked on both sides, the center space is very narrow. This creates a safety concern for cars backing out of the parking spaces.

A few parking spaces might also be removed on 3rd Street on the east side by Johnny Nolan’s Casino and on the west side by the Colorado Grande Casino. This would make room for buses to turn and for delivery trucks to unload, preventing them from taking up space on Bennett Ave.

On the other end of Bennett Ave, the Cripple Creek Fire Department has requested that two parking spaces that were removed on the south side of the street across from the station be put back. They need the space to swing their engines around before backing them into the bays at the firehouse.

All of these ideas for changes to parking along Bennett Ave are still in the discussion stage. Before they become official, city staffers hope to walk the streets with local business and casino owners and eyeball the areas in question. At this point, it is unclear when another work session or a council vote will be held on the subject.