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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 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.

Andrew Kerr
Sherwood Drive

Richard Plocica August 25, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Well try to go to one of the places and you will appreciate the need for a parking garage when it is a nominal time. As more business modernize to attract more customers the demand will be more pressing and so will limits imposed on new business due to parking until something is done. The Town is planning ahead and not with their behinds like those who oppose needed modernization - especially when the customers will be the ones paying for it with meals and food tax. It makes perfect sense to turn the useless lot into a full functional facility now before the costs increase further. Then otherwise in 5 years hear everyone really whine about the need for parking and the exorbitant cost of construction. Things are stressed now as even as far as at Caffe Amouri and NY Pizza where the lots are often full. If the side alley businesses are concerned they should be reminded that increased foot traffic directly in front of their business will quite beneficial. I say the sooner we get started the better.
B August 26, 2012 at 12:08 AM
If the town in so concerned about parking. How about building a parking garage where the Town Green is ? That way tax paying business would not be affected by a new structure on Church St.
Rk August 26, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Why not have the developer and or business's pay for the parking garage? Vienna is a desirable location for businesses and developers it would seem that the town should be in the drivers seat (no pun intended) in negotiating with the developers. If the expectation is add'l. tax revenue from development will be derived, than increasing existing town taxes to pay for it should not be necessary. It's been argued that a parking garage will allows more people and businesses to be attracted to Vienna, with that comes more traffic, already a problem area for the town. Add'l. parking does not alleviate traffic. What consideration is being given to that? There are going to ancillary costs as well. More traffic and development will necessitate increased budgets for police, fire, ems and maintenance. Once ordinances are changed, planning commission precedents are made and funding thru add'l. taxes are approved, the door is open for more of this type of development to occur. Surely this will not be the last. Parking is an issue, and not sure if this project is a good or bad idea. Certainly there is much to consider.
Wien August 27, 2012 at 12:15 AM
"Well try to go to one of the places"....I believe most people writing and replying do go to those places. As a member of a gym across from that empty lot and a frequent customer of all those businesses, I can say with 100% certainty that you can find a parking spot any time of the day. You may have to walk a block or two, but there is always a spot. In 4+ years living within the Town limits, I have never once had to come home because Church Street was devoid of parking. That's four years of going at all times of day to the gym, rush hours, prime hours, weekdays and weekends. I've rarely even seen the gravel lot across from Bikes full, as that is a great stand-in when other parking isn't available. So why not pave and make that a surface lot? So as the "there's no parking" argument clearly doesn't have much merit, what about your second point, that business modernization will attract more people and parking needs will increase. Sure, then why not build a one or two story structure that ups parking 30-60 spaces...why a $3M behemoth that has to charge to keep up with maintenance costs to give 120 spaces? And about the whole "business modernization" theory of yours...the businesses closest to the garage don't want it. So I doubt they're going to be investing in modernization while watching business decline. People who say there's no parking on Church Street either aren't looking hard enough or don't want to walk a couple blocks.
Ann Martin August 27, 2012 at 02:17 PM
There is more to learn. Why isn't the Private Building developer providing the parking for residence and businesses in the building? If the article is correct, the Town would be paying over $3 million for 120 public spaces. That seems very expensive, There must be better places to put the Town's money. From a previous article - "The garage’s lower level would accommodate the businesses and residents of the private building, plus customers of businesses along a nearby lane cutting between Church Street and Maple Avenue. The upper three levels would be available to the public. The garage would provide 120 spaces on its top three levels and 52 on the ground level, plus five along the street, officials said. The structure would use a single-helix design without pillars, so motorists could park on slanted sections. Town officials have not decided whether the garage will be free or charge users a fee. "

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