Future of broadband, transportation discussed at Martinez listening session

Samantha Ye

Man speaks to group at table
Ray Martinez, Fort Collins City Councilman, listens to community members at Espresso di Cincotta on January 31 during an informal community meeting. (Jon Price | Collegian)

Updates on City-run broadband and transportation were among many issues discussed at Fort Collins City Councilman Ray Martinez’s listening session Wednesday evening.

Martinez began the session by recapping the previous night’s Council work session wherein the City moved toward making a broadband plan and continued discussion with experts to ensure the City-run broadband is done right the first time.

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“No one wants failure on broadband … because it’s a big investment,” Martinez said. “We’re looking at close to 150 million dollars that will be invested.”

According to Martinez, the City is looking to contract out much of the network buildout and installation through Broadband Request for Proposals and possibly for future network maintenance.

However, Martinez said the City will be building and running their own call center to service the internet network.

Regarding issues of local transportation and development, community member Paul Patterson said he would soon be asking Council to reopen discussion on parking problems created by the Transportation Oriented Development district.

According to the City, a TOD district aims for compact and transit-oriented development to create a more walkable community. 

The only TOD district in Fort Collins is the Mason Corridor, the area surrounding MAX from the South College to Downtown Transit Center and encompassing all of Colorado State University.

The concern has been that the increasing number of multi-family and student-oriented housing built in the corridor do not provide sufficient parking for their residents leading to spillover parking into adjacent neighborhoods.

Although City Council has since adopted minimum parking requirements, developers can still lessen how much parking they have to provide through mitigation strategies which are meant to lower demand for parking, but Patterson said such strategies do not necessarily work that way.

“For example … the developer goes and says, ‘Well, I’m going to do the mitigation that is a 10 percent reduction (in parking spaces) if I give every (tenant) a Transfort pass,” Patterson said. “(So) what if you give everyone a Transfort pass? Does it (make it) so they don’t bring their car?”

Martinez noted the current program to address such spillover, the Residential Parking Permit Program, was currently not solving the problem.

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Michael Korn, community member, asked if Transfort’s 365-day service model would be kept permanently.

“I ride Transfort a lot, and some of the drivers have told me the Sunday service has been a lot more successful or more utilized than they’d expected,” Korn said. “I think it’s great (the City) is running it (on Sundays.)”

The pilot program, approved by Council last June, gives the MAX and five supporting routes regular Sunday service.

“We always call it a pilot program because we want to see what the ridership is really like,” Martinez said. “So after a year we’ll … see what the ridership is like and that’ll tell us – we’ll know if people are riding it or not and how much usage it’s getting.”

Other items discussed during the listening session include providing additional lockers for the homeless community, which will be addressed again by Council soon, revamping the City’s solar policy and the distribution and storage of City water in case of extended drought.

Collegian reporter Samantha Ye can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @samxye4.