Thursday, April 19, 2007

Construction under way on downtown parking

I believe all taxpayers of this wonderful city should follow the link and view the picture of some council members smiling happily away while we the taxpayers have to foot the bill. Even Mr. John Twitty can somehow manage to escape from his job as the head of City Utilities to watch the festivities as well. I wish I could just leave my business to observe someone digging a hole in dirt, but a responsible business owner and manager sees to the business at hand first.

I guess if I was assured that money would roll into my business without me doing anything I would've went, however I don't have the confiscation authority like city council does, however come '09 I would like the opportunity to narrow down the ability by replacing one of the yes men on council

Construction under way on downtown parking

The Heer's Car Park is one of two parking garages for 2008.

John Taylor

Construction began Tuesday on a facility that will provide 375 parking spaces for people who shop and work downtown.

The Heer's Car Park at the southeast corner of Campbell Avenue and Olive Street is one of two parking structures expected to be completed in 2008. The College Station Car Park south of College Street between Campbell and Market avenues will provide an additional 373 parking spaces.

The two garages are expected to accommodate visitors to the Heer's building, which is targeted for redevelopment, and College Station, a multi-use development that will include 77,000 feet of retail space as well as a 14-screen cinema.

Downtown parking has been the subject of at least one study, and city officials said there are plenty of places available if people know where to look.

Anthony Toste, who visits the Mud House on South Avenue nearly every day, summed up trying to find a place to park downtown in two words: "It's tough."

"When they did away with the diagonal parking on (South Avenue) it seemed like a crazy thing," he said. "We've gotten pretty good about cruising around until you find parking."

The trick, he said, is to know a few places where others usually do not park.

"The paid parking that keeps escalating doesn't seem like the best move," Toste said.

Ryan Lager said it gets harder to find a place to park after 5 p.m., but since he works downtown he can't always avoid it at certain times of the day.

"I just try to make it down here before it gets busy," he said.

Vern Morgan, city grants administrator, said there were 5,063 parking spaces downtown in 1998, according to a study done that year.

The breakdown was 4,234 on-street spaces, 3,533 parking lot spaces and 1,006 spaces in parking structures. The study did not specify what parking was free and what was paid.

Jason Haynes, project engineer with the city Public Works Department, said the total number of spaces has probably not changed significantly since the 1998 study. He added more on-street spaces have been added, but some off-street parking has been lost because of construction projects.

There are a lot of parking places that go unused because people either don't know where they are or because using them would cause people to walk farther than they want to, Haynes said.

Although the Heer's and College Station garages will be primarily for people who shop at those facilities, some spaces may also be leased to people who work or live downtown so they can get their vehicles off the street, Haynes said.

Mayor Tom Carlson said Tuesday's groundbreaking ceremony was a sign of spring.

"Some people plant flowers. We build buildings," Carlson said.

He said the event was important "to keep the momentum going on in the downtown area."

"We're creating a community where people can live and they can work and they can play," he said.

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