Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Parking ‘compromise’ is a travesty

    Recently, a mini-alley parking lot has been installed on property that was designated as the Ketchum Town Square.  The town design team appropriately allowed for a wide space in the alley for two parallel 15-minute parking spaces for city services and pick-up/drop-off for businesses. A building owner on the alley has complained that he needs more parking for his tenants, so the mayor decided that a “compromise” was the answer. Since there is little happening in the winter, why not allow parking?  
    The winter has passed, summer umbrellas are up and cars are continuously parked on the Town Square. Large planters are filled with bricks with signs attached directing how to park on the property. Additionally, benches are arranged as a barrier to block the view and contain the cars. The circular paver design is obscured and stained from the cars dripping oil. What a travesty. The many generous donations of time, talent and money that created this inviting, esthetically pleasing space should not be so easily discarded.
    What has been lost is the design concept of a town square, anchored on all sides by retailers who embrace the value of not only location but pedestrian traffic and visibility. The plan was to extend the plaza pavers the full length of the alley to include the retailer’s “back door” as part of the square. We hoped the retailer would take advantage and add more flower pots, awnings, trees and signs to welcome business from the plaza into their stores. That concept works in towns across Europe, and here too when businesses look beyond a parking lot and see creativity as part of the solution.
    If this permanent mini-parking lot was on the Ketchum City meeting agenda, I missed it.
Elaine Charlat

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