Amherst downtown core is a five minute walk end to end
With four major municipal building projects costing over $100 million in town money looming on the immediate horizon the likelihood of adding a new parking garage to that expensive short list is pretty close to zero.
Downtown Parking Working Group
Especially after yesterday's presentation to the new Downtown Parking Working Group by Nelson/Nygaard consultants Jason Schrieber and Liza Cohen. Their recent study showed peak demand never absorbs more than two-thirds of total parking available (within 10 minute walk) although that includes private parking lots.
Jason Schrieber and Liza Cohen
And the $40,000 study also concluded overall demand has remain essentially unchanged since the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission parking study in 2008, which also found plenty of parking available, but just not at the right time when consumers prefer it.
This is not the entire presentation
When asked about a new garage after their 40 minute presentation Schrieber responded "The reality is you have plenty of parking spaces."
And he pointed out that a garage is very expensive with no state funding available these days so you have to charge a minimum of $1 per hour to cover the capital costs, which scares away customers.
CVS side of lot was full at 1:30 PM but only 3 customers in store
CVS portion of lot on right
Other cheaper solutions are to work out deals with private owners to share parking. For instance the town could start a pilot program with CVS for their parking lot, which is contiguous with a town lot.
By allowing free parking for the first hour or two it would take care of any potential CVS shopper and more than double the amount of parking available to them.
Amity Street lot is currently off line for renovations
The CVS lot has also been talked about as the location for a new parking garage, but besides the high cost that would require a zoning change and the Boltwood Parking Garage was a bitter enough battle in Town Meeting 20 years ago, resulting in too small a structure.
Tiny Boltwood Garage was built with possible expansion in mind
Click to enlarge/read
Click to enlarge/read