Library Parking, Quandary Edition

Parking at the Library is one of those things that gives me such tremendous mixed feelings I don’t know what to do. On the one hand the environmentalist, simple living person says “There is tons of parking downtown! How hard is it to walk across the street from one of the parking garages where there is free parking?”

But the empathic parent in me says, “Yes it is sometimes very hard! You try dragging a couple of kids and full bookbag across the street in the howling wind and snow!” Not to mention folks who have a bit of trouble in walking or negotiating the slippery surfaces that hang around so long. So there is definitely a need for balance.

The city has made a proposal for changing the parking at the Library is welcoming public comment on the issue. There is going to be an informational meeting on the proposal on October 25th from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm at the City Council Chambers at City Hall. Basically the meeting is an open house, with a brief presentation at 5:30 pm. You can come and learn about the plan and give feedback at that meeting.

If you cannot make the meeting, there is information at the library, (and I would assume City Hall as well), including a feedback form for comments that you can mail to the City Engineer with your thoughts. The city is requesting that comments be mailed before November 8th. You can also call the City Engineer, Tony Lehmann or Joe Gehin, Director of Administration-Public Works and Utilities at 261-6740 with questions or comments.

In a nutshell the proposal calls for the existing parking lot to expand from 27 to 41 spaces, with the possibility of adding some “Senior Citizen” spots. The plan also calls for construction of a parking lot on the river front side of the Library (where the loading dock and former Bookmobile garages are). This parking lot would have 61 spaces according to the plan, however they would not serve the library “full-time.” The proposal states that this lot would provide “permit parking” for people working in the Dudley Building during the week and that Library parking would be allowed on evenings and weekends.

Unfortunately, there is no way to enter the Library from the proposed lower parking lot, so that people would have to walk up a staircase which will be constructed up the hill to the main entrance.

I am trying hard not to interject my own thoughts here, but this plan seems to be slightly worse than a mixed blessing. Expanding the existing parking lot is a wonderful idea and some “Senior” spots would be nice. But sixty-one spaces of Dudley parking across the street and down the hill from the building itself? Doesn’t seem to make much sense. Sixty-one spaces for an eleven story building? Doesn’t seem like it would make much of a dent.
It is not that I would want that additional parking down by the river just for the Library, but it doesn’t make sense to me to lose more prime river front (where there is already part of the trail) to parking. I would say, just add another 61 spaces to whatever Dudley parking is planned and leave that part of the river front alone — at least for this purpose.

But that is just my opinion. You can feel free to express yours both in the comment box and to City Hall. We are both waiting to hear!

And in the mean time, if you are heading down to the Library, and you are not dragging the kids around and can walk fine, why not park in the Mall parking lot (free for two hours! plenty of time!) or over at the Jefferson Street Inn, there is usually a couple of spots there. The walk will do you good and surely someone will appreciate your kindness.

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