Parking Garage and the Shared Parking Program – The Main Article
January 31, 2013 § 2 Comments
G. ISSUE NO. 5 — SIZE OF THE GARAGE AND THE ART CENTER The size of the garage that would support the purported downtown revitalization kept changing over time. When the council adopted the Public Shared parking program in 1994, it contemplated that a 266-space garage would be constructed to support 80,000 sq. ft. of commercial space. The council did not ask how these figures were derived even though the taxpayers’ share of the costs depended directly on them. In 1996, the staff raised the estimates; the program called for the establishment of 500 parking spaces to serve approximately 152,000 square feet of mixed-use space. In 2000, the staff estimated that the Art Center needed 120 spaces, but the DMP allocated 80 spaces for it. Once again, the councils asked no questions at any time. The calculations for this article assume that the Art Center will have 100 spaces and they would cost about $1.8 million. However, it appears that the Art Center now estimates that it would need 250 spaces.
“THE ART CENTER’S STARTED TO TAKE THE CENTER STAGE AFTER (NOT BEFORE) THE APPROVAL OF THE POLICY IN 1996.”
The phrase, “ The Future Cultural Center” was not mentioned even once in pre-1997 council meetings. It also did not appear in any staff report of the same period either. The record shows that former Councilmember Richard Downer began to mention the Cultural/Art Center (and its need for parking) in 1997 – shortly after the approval of the program. By 2001, various estimates of the number of parking spaces required for a Cultural Center began to appear in staff memos and have become a permanent feature of all reports since. The development of the Downtown Master Plan was another opportunity to showcase the needs of the Art Center. Initially, after months of planning, the Art Center was located over the municipal garage adjacent to the Herndon Municipal Center. Then, due to objections by the Foundation for the Cultural Arts, the location was changed to a site that, in 2002, had been selected for an Art Center. And, almost magically, the 2010 DMP placed the garage right next to the proposed site of the Art Center. This meant that the patrons of the Art Center would have to walk only a few feet to enjoy the art shows, but the patrons of the businesses would have to walk relatively long distances to go to work or shop. For some, the garage would be too far to be of any use. This implies that the needs of the businesses (who have contributed considerable sums to the shared parking program) were secondary to the needs of the Art Center. It is not unreasonable to conclude that one of the unstated objectives of the shared-parking program was to ensure the availability of parking for any future Art Center.