Boulder's City Council made it official on Tuesday: Paid parking and free shuttles at Chautauqua Park will continue for at least another five years.

In a unanimous vote, the council accepted the recommendation presented by city staff, which called for about $1 million in spending — largely offset by a projected $775,000 in parking revenue — between this summer and 2022.

It's an extension of a program that began as a summerlong pilot in 2017. Boulder started charging people to park at Chautauqua as a way to address concerns about increasing traffic, parking scarcity and overcrowding at the wildly popular park, world famous for the Flatirons.

That new policy was paired with free shuttles from satellite parking lots downtown and off of Broadway and Baseline Road.

When the City Council drafted and then approved the pilot last year, it, and city staffers, braced for major public backlash.

But that never really emerged, as the pilot was greeted mostly with positive feedback.

On Tuesday night, before the council voted to extend the program, only one person, Michael McCarthy, signed up to speak at the public hearing, and he had very nice things to say about the program. He said it helped stem the "relentless deterioration of the quality of the neighborhood."


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"This thing really did work," McCarthy added. "The purpose of this was to disperse the usage, to diminish the amount of traffic. It has been as successful as any program I've seen the city of Boulder adopt."

For a City Council well used to fielding complaints and concerns from citizens about all sorts of initiatives, the distinct lack of controversy surrounding the program's extension brought a welcome change of pace.

"There were predictions made when we first put this in place that it would blow up in our face," Councilman Sam Weaver said, "and I'm happy to see that it did not."

Councilwoman Mary Young said the pilot has "come pretty darn close" to solving the issues associated with overcrowding at Chautauqua.

"Congratulations," she told city staffers.

Said Mayor Suzanne Jones: "This might be held up as a model of how to do process right."

The only significant piece of negative feedback that Boulder got on this program related to the shuttle buses using Ninth Street. Dozens of neighbors signed a petition asking Boulder to mitigate the traffic, noise and air pollution introduced by those buses.

Moving forward, city staff said, the Chautauqua program will look to contract with providers of quieter vehicles and drivers that commit to following speed laws.

Alex Burness: 303-473-1389, burnessa@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/alex_burness