Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Parking: Reality vs Perception

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


Anonymous said...

There's plenty of available parking, just not "at the door" parking. If you want it available at the door ask the business your frequenting to have employees Park in elsewhere. I'd also raise the rates. 50 cents an hour is laughable.

Larry Kelley said...

Yes, those ideas were suggested by the consultants as well.

Anonymous said...

My house is assessed around $450k so I am figuring $100 million in town money for all these projeccts will boost my taxes by $1700 a year, starting in the first year. Am I right? Who on earth would vote yes for debt exclusions to add this to their tax burden?

Larry Kelley said...

Well they are all not going to happen at the same time.

But pretty safe bet the $35 million Debt Exclusion for the new Mega School will be on the November 8 ballot.

Anonymous said...

That school will add about $600 a year, then add on the library, the fire station, dpw building….that's a lot of money. Who is going to vote for all this?

Anonymous said...

"They're not all going to happen at the same time."

Yes, they effectively are, if they all happen within a few years from each other, as you will be paying them off for decades.

Anonymous said...

"but just not at the right time when consumers prefer it."

When consumers prefer it is the whole point. Sorry, but one wants to walk ten minutes in a bitter wind in the middle of the winter to go out to dinner.

As for the CVS lot, they are constantly fighting to keep people from parking there and shopping else where, so the suggestion that people get a grace period for shopping or going to the library, thus tying up their parking, is not only a nonstarter, but it's absurd on its face.

Use private parking lots? That's another nonstarter, as the private lots are busy towing people because they are private lots. The Lord Jeff wants its private lot for its customers. It's the same all over town. Just ask Jeff Brown, for example, to see if he wants to share his Triangle Street parking. The answer is no.

I can't believe we paid for this study.

Anonymous said...

Allow private lots to put in private meters...?

Larry Kelley said...

Yes. Gives Parking Enforcement a whole new shit.

Anonymous said...

the idea put forward by the planning board (and planning Dept?) to allow parking as the "mixed use" in mixed-use residential buildings was pretty wack. Not sure who put forward that idea? Essentially would allow a first floor parking garage with residential units above. Hardly, what, I think, was intended by the mixed use concept. A real TM dud. Really misjudged that one.

Anonymous said...

Your photos show why a parking garage is so necessary. The lots are full and this is summer, which is the slowest time of year,

Anonymous said...

The problem is that those awful downtown surface parking lots should be mixed-use buildings.
In order to achieve that goal, there must be a garage

Anonymous said...

When the Boltwood garage was built, we were told that the support structure was so reinforced as to allow more stories. Why is no one talking about adding stories? ON the other hand, these same consultants report that the lower level of the garage is empty!! Funny, I never find problems finding a parking space when I go out for dinner or to the movies. hbg

Anonymous said...

Im thinking if you are able-bodied and can't walk 5 minutes in bad weather maybe u shouldn't live in New England.