ARCHIVED  July 1, 1997

Wyoming Business: Time running out for Cheyenne’s parking scofflaws

CHEYENNE — Confessions of a parking scofflaw.

In a former life in a Midwestern city, I developed something of a reputation for outguessing the parking patrols by smugly parking all day in unmetered two-hour zones near my office.

My colleagues and I used all the usual dodges of taking our morning, lunch and afternoon breaks to erase chalk marks, edge our vehicles forward to cover the marks or best yet, swap parking spots so we would be in technical compliance. After awhile, we were doing it more for sport and challenge than convenience or penuriousness.

Cheyenne’s Old Town Merchants Association is trying to solve chronic parking problems in downtown Cheyenne, and after attending a recent meeting on the problem, I came to realize that much of the problem is caused by scofflaws like me.

“There’s plenty of parking in downtown Cheyenne, but employers and employees are taking a lot of it,” notes Dana Hannon, who chaired the meeting between Old Town Merchants, representatives of the Downtown Development Authority and several city officials and city council members.

Indeed, city officials say there are almost 4,000 public and private parking spaces in the 40-block core downtown area, and major facilities such as the City Center Parking Lot and the new George Cox Parking Garage are underused.

(The core area is bounded by 15th and 20 streets and O’Neil and Evans avenues and does not include two of Cheyenne’s more chronic parking-deficit areas – the State Capitol Complex and the United Medical Center complex. United Medical currently is building a parking garage and shuttling employees in the meantime).

Downtown merchants say the problem is threefold. First is a public perception that there’s no place to park. Second is the irony that people are more reluctant to walk a block to a downtown store than to walk through a mall, even though the distance is often less. And third is the reality that only 20 percent of the downtown businesses are retail stores and 80 percent are professional offices.

Voters shot down a new parking facility in defeating the Capital Facilities Tax last year and with the City of Cheyenne facing its own fiscal woes, construction of any major new city parking facility in downtown Cheyenne isn’t likely.

So downtown merchants are exploring other alternatives, including Cheyenne Transit Authority shuttle buses, education campaigns to convince employees to not park on the streets in front of businesses, tougher enforcement of existing parking ordinances and even ordinances that would prohibit employees from parking in the downtown area.

But the ultimate solution may be for scofflaws like me (and I’ve been doing better lately, really) to recognize the problem facing downtown merchants and try to leave the on-street parking for their customers and seek longer-term parking in more suitable areas.

And downtown shoppers should realize that just because there isn’t a parking place in front of their favorite store doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem and that parking a block away in a city lot might still mean less walking than at a mall.

Meanwhile on the Cheyenne parking front, Cheyenne’s Frontier Mall is taking steps to ensure against a parking problem of its own by reconstructing and rehabilitating its parking lots as well as those at adjacent Frontier Square.

Frontier Days sales going well

Last year’s 100th annual Cheyenne Frontier Days was a record-setter in every sense of the word, so not surprisingly, most prognosticators aren’t predicting record-setting rodeo and night-show ticket sales for the 101st version this July.

Nonetheless, ticket sales are going well, say Frontier Days officials, and the 101st “Daddy of ’em All” promises to be one of the biggest and best yet, perhaps second-biggest.

The fearless economic prognosticators of the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce are generally predicting a return to more-traditional levels this year. Last year’s combined ticket total reached 271,115, eclipsing the record 213,000 tickets sold in 1994.

Paul S. Howard, managing director of Dain Bosworth Inc., offered the highest projection at 270,000, while Rick Flood, area sales manager for Key Bank of Wyoming, had the lowest at 210,000. Bill Pomeroy, energy/customer service manager for Cheyenne Light, Fuel & Power, weighed in at 238,000, and Marty Knaub, senior vice president of American National Bank, predicted 255,000.

Dennis E. Curran can be reached at (307) 778-3666 or via fax at (307) 778-3600. His e-mail address is denncurran@aol.com.

CHEYENNE — Confessions of a parking scofflaw.

In a former life in a Midwestern city, I developed something of a reputation for outguessing the parking patrols by smugly parking all day in unmetered two-hour zones near my office.

My colleagues and I used all the usual dodges of taking our morning, lunch and afternoon breaks to erase chalk marks, edge our vehicles forward to cover the marks or best yet, swap parking spots so we would be in technical compliance. After awhile, we were doing it more for sport and challenge than convenience or penuriousness.

Cheyenne’s Old Town Merchants Association is trying…

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