Contact: Mitzi Rapkin, Director of Community Relations, office - 970-920-5082, cell – 970-319-2791- email@example.com
Aspen, CO – May 4, 2011– Aspen City Council is implementing a free parking program in Aspen every Friday in May. This includes on-street parking in the downtown core as well as residential neighborhoods. Notices will be posted on meters around town and the pay-by-phone system will be programmed to inform callers that no fee is required on May 6, 13, 20 and 27.
Council member Ruth Kruger said, “This is a real issue for the retailers and businesses in the core. I support this program of free parking in the off-season.”
Enforcement is already scaled back. Parking is free on Saturdays in the off-seasons in addition to the year-round free Sunday parking.
The impetus for the program was to try to encourage more commerce in the commercial district as well as inspire locals to enjoy downtown amenities during the shoulder season. “My thought is to encourage some downtown business and not slap a local with a ticket during these slow times,” said council member Torre. “I support this in the name of encouraging dwell time in the core and relief for mostly locals.”
The budget impact of offering free parking on Fridays for one month is projected to be an approximate $30,000 loss to the city. The month of May represents about 6% of annual gross parking revenues and represents the lowest volume of traffic and parking in the City so it is an apt time for the program. Some revenues from parking support the free bus system so council member Torre said it was important to carefully watch deficits in the program.
The City is already collecting parking data in order to do calculations later to determine if free Fridays had an impact on the local economy. In addition, council member Derek Johnson said, “We should be able to look at May sales tax and determine if there was a benefit to local businesses.”
Free parking is available for carpools with two or more occupants all year and the bus is free from the Intercept lot, Snowmass Village and within Aspen daily.