As City Councilor and Chair of the Task Force, Chuck Bennett, said, “Nobody really gets free parking.Somehow it all has to be paid for.”And the Salem Downtown Partnership says,
The City of Salem is our partner to help us achieve the best shopping, dining, art and entertainment experience for our customers. Unfortunately, the City is $4 million behind in maintenance on the three downtown parking garages, Chemeketa, Liberty and Marion.the recent letter to the editor could easily reflect the reality of the $4 million deficit and other subsidies for parking!
It is upsetting that tax dollars are spend to accomodate car parkers. They don't pay a penny for using all the amenities that have been implemented just for them. If they paid a parking fee, at least they would be paying something. It is not fair to the rest of us to pay their way.More seriously, the Partnership is holding a meeting for downtown businesses on Wednesday to discuss parking and its funding, and hopefully the conversation will generate creative ideas on ways to balance downtown's current dependence on free parking with the need to transition to different parking strategies. Most importantly, with luck the conversation can shift from the temporary free storage of cars to the mobility of people, people who might choose to use cars and people who might choose other means.
|If 85% is the magic threshold,|
maybe there's too much parking?
Bikes should be part of the solution. By investing in high quality bike facilities, more people will bike downtown - will be comfortable and feel it is a realistic option - reducing congestion and the perceived need for car parking. The same can be said for walking and transit. There's a distinct possibility for addition-by-subtraction here!
If one strategy is to manage supply, another is to manage demand - we should be investing in things that get people downtown and reduce the demand for free car storage downtown, rather than investing in increasing the supply of free car storage.
Most people have no idea of the richness of the visual landscape in the downtown area of Salem right now — you simply can’t see it very well if you are just whizzing by in a car....If you are in a car, you probably only notice the street construction delays and the hassles of finding a parking place.
When I think about cities that were born in an era before cars, what strikes me is that people took care to have interesting things to look at along the way. There are statues. Buildings have striking architectural features. There are places of greenery and flowers in tiny window boxes and larger pocket parks. There are places to sit for awhile. Cities like that grow and change and many have survived for hundreds of years. Those features that we might think of as costly “extras,” such as art or landscaping, may actually be at the core of economic vitality and longevity in a city.
Downtown is the heart of our city where our identity should be strong. We need to imagine downtown Salem where the alleys aren’t ill-kept passages people avoid but are instead pedestrian pathways with sculptures on display. Imagine the alleys vibrant with art painted on the sides of the buildings and flowers and greenery hanging above. The alleys could make downtown so much more friendly to bicycles and pedestrians and we could make the alleys feel like a walking tour of an art installation.