One of the reasons I have avoided events in Old Town in the past has been the extremely limited parking options. It seems you have to drive around and around to find a spot somewhere near your destination.

Now Fort Collins has convened a panel of 'experts' on parking to tell us what we already knew.

Better plan ahead. Really ! ?

Kevin Duggan of The Coloradoan reports on the panel's observations:

Careful planning is the key to keeping parking in downtown Fort Collins from becoming a major problem, according to a panel of experts brought to the city to analyze its parking practices and policies..

The panel's preliminary recommendations presented Wednesday include considering metered on-street parking and forming an authority with its own governing board that would focus on managing parking services, generating funding and providing facilities.

Panel members also said that as commercial elements of downtown spread out along the Mason Corridor and North College Avenue, the city should keep the parking needs of neighborhoods and businesses in mind and pursue public-private partnerships in building parking structures.

Fort Collins has many features that make it a "magical" place with a sense of it unique standing in the country as great place to live, said Dennis Burns, a parking consultant and panel member.

The current perception around town is that parking is an aggravation but not painful, he said.

"That pain could come if we don’t do the right things going forward," Burns said.

You can read Kevin's full report here.

As magical as Old Town is, I'm sure there are many like myself who have avoided downtown because of the parking situation. Personally, I hope the 'experts' can come up with reasonable solutions otherwise those businesses who thrive on downtown traffic may begin to see declines in customers.