Tuesday, April 1, 2008

More on parking, as promised

Now, I expected all kinds of commentary about why, if the Mayor doesn't think we have a parking problem, he proposed putting a parking garage on Prince Place. Maybe the commentary is yet to come. Maybe the Mayor offered up an explanation for his seemingly erratic behavior when my friend asked him at his open house ...

Let's just say that perhaps the Mayor's story is that he was asked a hypothetical, as in, "If you were going to build a parking garage, where would be your first choice to build it?" and next thing he knew, according to the paper, he practically had shovel in hand, ready to break ground on a parking garage at Prince Place in 3 months.

I don't know what to think, except maybe he needs a press secretary.

The Mayor has gone on record, with me when I last year wrote that story about Newburyport for Merrimack Valley Magazine, as saying that as long as the city has those parking spaces in the NRA lots, there is no parking problem and that a parking garage was not economically feasible, even with the money from the state. (Although I did hear from someone else that unidentified people at the state are laughing at us because we haven't taken the money.)

I also heard that it would cost about $49,500 per parking space to build a garage. I wonder how long would it take the city to recoup that? Especially if residents think they should be exempt from paid parking. And that estimate is probably old news now, what with the cost of construction climbing.

Wow, it's hard for me to keep these posts short because now I want to relate this little anecdote. Last year, in late summer I think, my sister brought an old friend up here (my sister lives in Gloucester) to see Newburyport. We whizzed around showing this woman the historic homes, etc., and then she asked to pull into the east NRA lot so she could look at the river.

As we stood there admiring the scenery, I commented that people wanted to turn the parking lot into a park.

"Why?" she asked, glancing over at Market Landing Park. "Is that one always full?"

There were only two or three people strolling through the park at the time, which I have to admit was late evening on a chilly day. There were, however, a couple dozen people sitting or strolling on the boardwalk and an elderly couple sitting in a car facing the river.

I gave her the background and ended with, "And to make up for losing these parking spaces, the city would have to build a parking garage."

"Why would you want to put an ugly parking garage in this pretty little town?" she queried.

She went on to say that while driving through the Northeast (she lives in, if I recall correctly, Nevada) she had seen any number of parks but what she particularly wanted to see in Newburyport was historic buildings. And the river, apparently.

No comments: