By Bob Blumberg, chair, Downtown Development Authority.
Input on the proposed plan is certainly welcome as the intent has always been to enhance the customer experience in relation to the parking dilemma in Rome. The points outlined are on target in relation to your concurrence as to the need for paid parking and the need for “parking relief.”
However, the answer is not addressed by the proposed usage of License Plate Readers as this has the intention of first and foremost harassing customers into submission rather than providing them with a choice. Additionally, the enforcement action represents a short-term fix that would dissolve over time.
Consumer surveys point to three areas of major concern (over 70 percent of respondees):
- Need for additional “free parking.”
- Need to eliminate the two-hour parking limit per day.
- Need to address the overall deficiencies within the decks in relation to safety, cleanliness etc.
The plan delivers against these three areas:
- The shift from 412 to over 1,400 “free parking spaces.”
- The elimination of the two-hour parking limit
- Action plan for parking decks: enhanced security, a cleaner environment and the elimination of gates at entry and egress points.
Another area needed to be addressed is the average parking duration on Broad Street. The statistics are a shock even to those on the parking committee:
- Less than 1 hour – 80%
- Between 1 & 2 hours – 15%
- Over 2 hours – 5%.
We will review and evaluate the need for another supply and demand study. We have addressed 80% of visitors with our plan.
The “rush job” statement” is simply inaccurate as the parking committee has been working on a plan of action for many years with the culmination of the proposed plan now before the City Commission.
With approximately 130 business licenses on Broad Street representing over 4,000 restaurant seats, a larger amount of customers frequenting retail outlets as well as over 3,000 employees, the 412 parking spaces cannot begin to accommodate the demand. Accompany this with the potential development of new commercial and residential projects highlighting that downtown development has not even achieved 60% of its capacity represents the real need for “visionaries” to secure our future.
We have a good problem! Change and a shift in our approach is required to maintain our growth trend and to eliminate business departures from downtown.
Bob Blumberg is the owner of the Johnny’s New York-Style Pizza franchise at 233 Broad St. as well as the building that houses it. He also owns Seasons at 208 Broad St.
The above is in response to this commentary posted Thursday by Hometown Headlines:
We welcome Bob’s response and those for any/all downtown stakeholders. We will post one from each “side” as they arrive and are validated with the author. Email comments to email@example.com. We likewise stand by our Thursday column as it was posted as there is nothing to correct.