Letter to the Editor: No Need for a Parking Garage
Vienna resident Andrew Kerr writes in opposition to the proposed Church Street parking garage
I write in profound opposition to the proposed parking garage in Vienna —something we're being asked to pay for.
First, having lived here for several years and had extensive talks about living in Vienna with lots of neighbors, we all agree that Vienna is a great place to live but needs a few things. I've heard neighbors long for an Irish pub, a gourmet burger restaurant, more sidewalks, a public pool, and a re-invigorated community center. No one, ever, has longed for a parking garage. For three million dollars, Vienna could indeed make a really nice community center, build more sidewalks, build a pool, or offer targeted incentives for fun local restaurants to add to Church and Maple streets.
Second, there's no demonstrated need. Spending three million dollars (which ultimately are our dollars) on something we don't want or need is a strange decision. We need a police department and sidewalks, so those clearly require town funding. Church Street is thriving. Indeed, for hours this past Saturday it resembled a parking lot given the volume of traffic. And yet while Church Street was full of cars, there remained numerous available parking spots. Where's the need for a three million dollar garage? If someone could prove that Church Street businesses were about to suddenly go bankrupt en masse without a garage, then it might be worth considering. But contrary to that, Bazin's is always packed; they've opened Alegria. Caffe Amouri is packed. As far as I can tell, any business with a product or service that people desire is doing really well. I see no need to build a taxpayer subsidized garage for businesses that are already thriving.
I mentioned the traffic, which seems to get worse by the quarter. Putting in more parking will only attract more traffic. As it is, both Maple and Church are beset by gridlock during the weekends and rush hour. Why do we want to bring more cars to Vienna? How about discouraging cars and encouraging more pedestrian and bike traffic.
Finally, there's the parking garage itself. Parking garages attract crime. Consider the first line from this National Institute of Justice Research Report: "Because parking facilities are more likely settings for crime — both violent and property — than all other real estate except residential, security is one of the most critical issues facing the owners and operators of parking facilities today."
Ugh! Thank goodness Vienna doesn't own a parking facility! If we did, combating the crime it attracted would be an ongoing headache for our police force. Why Vienna would create a crime-attracting facility makes no sense to me.