Parking Garage and the Shared Parking Program – The Main Article
January 31, 2013 § 2 Comments
B. ELEMENTS OF THE SHARED-PARKING PROGRAM The professed objective of the Shared-Parking program was to revitalize the central commercial district by providing subsidized off-site (rather than on-site) parking to businesses in Areas 1 and 2 of the downtown. Under the cost-sharing formula, the Town would supply the parking spaces, (initially by buying downtown land and creating surface parking lots and later by constructing structured parking). Participating businesses would have to:
- purchase spaces (3.3 spaces per 1000 sq. ft. of floor area) regardless of the use
- pay 60% of the estimated capital cost of structured parking, which was pegged at $5445/space in 1996, and
- pay 50% of the operating & maintenance costs, which were estimated to be $156/space.
Participants in the program would be permitted to pay for the spaces over a 15-year period. In addition, the title to the purchased parking spaces would run with the land in perpetuity. This means (1) future owners of the property would not have to buy the spaces again and (2) no matter where the spaces are located over time, the participants would have the right to use them in perpetuity. On September 10, 1996, the Town Council approved the “shared-parking” program unanimously without debate. Perhaps, no debate was needed. The program had been in the making at least five years and it had benefitted from two applications for re-zoning for sites that could not possibly provide any on-site parking. Town staff, the Planning Commission, the shared parking sub-committee of the Planning Commission, a special committee on PD-MU zoning, numerous downtown businesses and prominent members of the community had participated in its development. Indeed, it would have been considered an affront to discuss any details of the program at this late hour. Most observers would have assumed that important economic and policy questions had been debated and the public interest had been protected. After all, it is the duty and the obligation of the general political body to do so. The question is, “Did the political body live up to its obligation or did it serve just the parochial interests?” Lets examine some of the important issues affecting the common taxpayers and assess whether the 17 councilmembers discharged their duty satisfactorily.