Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Aurelia Pollard

LID meets with county commissioners to discuss parking issues


Photo by Bruce Warren LID Co-Chair Carrie Wise (left foreground) walks with Boulder County Commissioner Deb Gardner during the walking tour of 2nd Avenue following the commissioners' annual meeting with LID Advisory Committee members. Also pictured (background left to right) are LID Advisory Committee members Jay Champion, Satir DeMarco and Harris Faberman, Commissioner Elise Jones, community member Tim Wise, and LID Advisory Committee Co-Chair Laura Skaggs.

Niwot’s Local Improvement District (LID) Advisory Committee met Monday afternoon, July 18, with Boulder County Commissioners to update them on the strides the Niwot business district has been making and discuss issues it’s facing.

County Commissioners Elise Jones and Deb Gardner (Cindy Domenico was out of town) met with LID members at the group’s yearly meeting, which community members were invited to attend.

The meeting started off with a presentation by Julie Ankenbrandt, Niwot Business Association (NBA) marketing director, on Niwot’s State of the Union. Ankenbrandt went over the economic development and sales tax collected by Niwot's LID, indicating a healthy business environment.

According to Ankenbrandt’s report, “Niwot sales tax base has tripled in five years.” Sales tax revenue in 2010 was just over $58,000, and five years later in 2015, it has reached nearly $170,000.

Ankenbrandt cited the opening of the 1914 House on Second Avenue as recent noteworthy business activity in the town. Since the restaurant opened its outdoor patio and upstairs private event space, more people have been frequenting Niwot, which helps with the sales tax revenue but creates more need for additional parking.

Among other noteworthy business activity in Niwot, Ankenbrandt mentioned that “Cottonwood Square has reported full capacity and is undergoing additional improvements," such as new roofing, new asphalt and new signage.

The NBA has also reached a total of 151 members so far in 2016, which is up from 145 members in 2016. After hearing all the improvements and updates Niwot has made in the last year, Gardner commented on how great the town is doing.

“This is the best it has ever been,” LID Co-Chair Carrie Wise said in response to Gardner. Wise and her husband have owned and operated Wise Buys Antiques in Niwot for 30 years.

Even though the LID and other Niwot organizations have accomplished many goals throughout the past year to be proud of, there is one glaring issue they hope the commissioners can help them with—parking.

Bruce Warren, LID member, described the parking situation in Niwot, which the LID says “needs to be addressed now.”

Warren explained that a committee from Niwot developed a Transportation and Connectivity Plan for the town in 2012, in conjunction with Boulder County Land Use and Transportation Department officials. That plan, approved by the commissioners, established thresholds for development of a parking facility and other transportation improvements.

In order to address the issue of a parking lot, the next parking survey conducted must surpass the 75 percent threshold, meaning at least 75 percent of parking must be utilized. LID members believe Niwot has already reached that threshold, and if it hasn’t, anticipate that the opening of the 1914 House for lunch should push parking usage over the limit.

Both Jones and Gardner said they, along with Domenico, will be happy to help however they can to reduce the parking issue. Jones said they are “data driven” and will look forward to seeing the results of the parking survey, which is expected to occur in September according to Pete Salas, the county liaison to the LID.

In addition to painting parking stripes along both sides of Second Avenue, which should happen sometime this fall, the LID believes another parking lot is needed in Niwot. Warren explained two different opportunities they have to obtain extra parking in Niwot, one being in the very early stages.

The first opportunity is to purchase BNSF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe) land along Murray Avenue to use as a parking lot. The parcel, which is approximately two acres, lies north of Excel Electric on Murray south of the train tracks.

To purchase the whole parcel of land, BNSF is asking over $400,000, which the LID believes is too much. They’ve also looked at purchasing just a portion of the land (about one-quarter), which would cost just over $100,000. The smaller parcel, about one-half acre, would accommodate 50-60 cars, which would greatly help with Niwot’s parking needs.

“This could be a place for businesses to have employees park at, so they don’t take up space along Second Avenue,” Warren explained.

Warren mentioned the extra parking spaces would also be available to patrons of old town Niwot businesses and help make events safer to community members by reducing parking in residential areas. The second opportunity for more parking would be to create a 14-space parking lot, as part of a new Postle proposed project at 240 Second Avenue.

Although this option wouldn’t create as many parking spaces, it is currently under discussion with Boulder County Land Use and Transportation. Warren discussed the difficulties the LID has experienced in the past when a parking lot was proposed, with the Land Use Department insisting that the Land Use Code must first be amended, but citing the flood of 2013 as the reason the department could not address the issue.

Commissioners Jones and Gardner were pleased to hear the different opportunities the LID already has explored to create additional parking, and were supportive of what Niwot is doing. They indicated that they would discuss the matter with county staff and consider the results of the fall parking survey.

LID members were appreciative of the assistance to the LID the county commissioners have provided in the past.

“I’ve always felt like we’ve had respect from the commissioners,” Jim Eastman, LID member, said to the commissioners. “We appreciate all you do.”

The afternoon concluded with a walking tour of 2nd Avenue by the commissioners and LID members.


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