Monday, August 11, 2008

EDC backs parking plan, and bid to buy two properties

In a foreshortened meeting of the Economic Development Committee, the commission backed a parking plan which would include the creation of a more extensive parking lot which links the City Hall lot with the Melilli Plaza lot, through regrading and demolition of a wall which divides the lots. The plan also calls for extension of the city lot adjacent to the court house, and development of a plan for a Main Street trolley.

The committee also voted to recommend the purchase of two properties, with existing homes, on Wadsworth Street near Long Lane. Money to buy the properties was stricken from the budget during deliberations between the mayor and the Common Council. Still the EDC felt strongly that the purchase would be beneficial to the city, since it owns adjoining property, and decided to recommend that the Common Council reconsider funding the purchase.

In a brief discussion of the extension of the lease for Harbor Park, which is still in mediation, town planner Bill Warner indicated that the details of the negotiated agreement were "falling apart" due to the ongoing controversy surrounding the lease extension. Committee member Joseph Bibisi agreed, saying that negotiations had "a long way to go."


Catherine Johnson said...

What is proposed is a steel-tracked streetcar powered by electricity (catenary cable). This will be the real thing: a genuine, actual streetcar, not a bus with an old-timey body on it posing as a trolley. The time is ripe for this transit: it will spur new growth downtown. We have plenty of room to grow. I am very proud of the committee for voting for this idea.

Second: the idea to fuse two parking lots together is fine for the short-term, but I urge the city to spend the least amount of money and energy to make it happen. Let us not prolong the redevelopment of this precious central block for 3 more decades because we made a pretty parking lot.

Third: The idea that we would spend $220,000 on a parking study is hard to swallow, but what's worse is that the final recommendation would be to rebuild the garage behind the Police Station and Riverview Center (the "Arcade"). Several members of the public who attended the parking study meetings and I expressed great reservations about spending the funding here, because there is greater need for parking elsewhere, such as behind Main St Market and in the North End.

From my vantage point, the committee wasn't given all the information to make a reasoned evaluation for where best to invest this money. The consultant proposed parking solutions without illustrating what future development would look like on each block, so the committee couldn't see what potential development might be thwarted if it chose a certain parking options over another.

We instead support two other ideas. 1) Build an underground garage under Mellili Plaza . While this would require more money, I believe it would be better to start the process and complete it when funding is available than waste it on something less useful. 2) Deck the lots off Broad Street. The existing lots are all ready for decks, you can see it. This would prepare the way for redeveloping William, College and Broad streets. If the oil era does reduce car usage, we can use the decks for other activities and still park below.

Anonymous said...

Depending on the fare, people with families might ride the trolley for pleasure. Ding, ding, ding goes the trolley. Ring, ring, ring goes the bell!

Parking is a science, alright. Fusing those two lots SOUNDS good but the cost might not justify such a project. Would it be two Ramps?
The nasty layout of that lot behind the ION could be much better. Couldn't it?

Having almost never found the need to park in the lot behind the Police Station, it is difficult to work up any enthusiasm for making it better.

I would be fearful of parking anywhere secluded in the North End...

Why is underground appropriate for Mellili Plaza and decking appropriate for the lots (is there more than one lot?) on Broad Street?
Although $220,000 does not go far these days, it is not chump change either! Is their a Parking Deity, doling out gobs like this? Can we extract more funds?

I shoulda gone to the meeting!

Catherine Johnson said...

The $220,000 came through Midstate Planning, I believe, but it was still paid for by us taxpayers. Underground parking spaces are more expensive, about twice the price of structured parking. I suggest using decks from lots off Broad (every block from Church to Washington can have a decked lot in the interior) because the topography can allow access to each level without the need to ramp floors, another ways structured parking gets expensive.