Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jesse Murphy
Editorial@lhvc.com 

Contract signed for land purchase, public meeting scheduled

 

August 18, 2017



Several years ago the Niwot Local Improvement District had a transportation and connectivity study done through Boulder County that identified a need for a dedicated parking lot in or near the business district downtown.

Bruce Warren, who participated in the study, said that when parking usage downtown exceeds 74 percent of the available spaces open to the public, it’s time to explore options for a parking facility, and when it reaches 85%, it’s time to act.

Anyone who frequents downtown Niwot can attest that often times it is hard to find parking during business hours.

“We think that we have met the threshold,” Warren said. “The indication is that we now need that parking lot.”

Niwot had always been just under that threshold for more parking, but after the LID realized the study included private parking, the Revitalization Committee decided to start negotiations with Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad to purchase vacant land adjacent to the business district.

With 1914 House open, a bike shop coming into what used to be Rockin Robins’ and the Old Oak Coffee House opening, downtown is busier than ever.

“They’ve brought more traffic downtown,” Warren said. “Plus a potential for even more because 1914 House has not yet opened for lunch. There will be a bigger need when that happens.

“When we (LID) met with the county commissioners at the Grange, it was extremely hard to find parking downtown. A member added that it was on a Monday when several businesses were closed. That seemed to further indicate the need for a dedicated parking area.”

The area in question is approximately 1,100 feet long by 80 feet wide, and located north of the Excel Electric building on the west side of Murray Street, about a block away from downtown.

The Niwot Futures League (formerly the Revitalization Committee), has been working with BNSF for over a year and is ready to receive public comment.

A meeting will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on Aug. 30 at the Left Hand Grange to get feedback from the community.

Another point of the meeting is to discuss what could be done with the remaining portion of the land. Only the first 306 feet of the land is planned for a parking space for 60 vehicles.

“We think that would be adequate to serve the needs of the business community based on the development that has occurred,” Warren said.

The sale price of the two-acre parcel is $170,000.

Although the purchaser is currently the Niwot Cultural Arts Association, If approved by the LID, the NCAA will assign the contract to Boulder County, which will be responsible for the development of the lot using LID funds.

“The business owners for quite some time have expressed concerne that when somebody is driving downtown and can’t find a place to park there is a deterrent effect when you don’t have adequate parking,” Warren said. “This is especially true for restaurants. People looking for a place to eat but can’t find a place to park will likely just go somewhere else.”

Part of the purpose of the lot is a place for employees to park as it is only about a block away — close and convenient — and will leave more space available on the street for customers.

The contract does have a few contingencies, including Boulder County approval, title work, and environmental assessment.

Warren said they have spoken with the county commissioners who were supportive, but wanted to get ample feedback from the community.

He also said that most of the concerns to date have come from those who live right along Murray Street.

He said that to ease these concerns, the design of the lot has it built lower than street level. It will be screened from view for residents on Murray street with shrubs and a rail fence.

“I think it will improve the view when you look to the west,” Warren said. “You’ll see vegetation and then above that, the mountains. We’re trying to be good neighbors to the folks who are most impacted by it. We are also looking forward to getting their input as to other uses for the remaining three-fourths of the property.”

 

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