Downtown parking, a hot topicMerchants and area residents once again showed up in mass at a Dickinson City Commission meeting Monday evening at the City Hall to voice ideas and aggravations about downtown parking.
Merchants and area residents once again showed up in mass at a Dickinson City Commission meeting Monday evening at the City Hall to voice ideas and aggravations about downtown parking.
The meeting was the second public hearing on a proposed solution to convert a downtown park into a 15-space parking lot.
Dwight Mundy, owner of Greene Drug & Gifts, said the parking issue is nothing new as it was being talked about in 1979 when he was a member of the Downtown Merchants.
“Thirty-one years ago later, we’re still talking about the same thing,” Mundy said.
Robert Keogh, chairman of the Urban Forestry Committee, said the original plan for the downtown park was to be large and elaborate, with plumbing installed for restrooms.
“At some point in time the park was downsized,” Keogh said.
Mundy said with all the shrubbery, non-residents wouldn’t know parking spaces were adjacent to the park.
Rebecca Hofer, an employee at Greene Drug, said she often has difficulty finding a parking space.
Hofer said all downtown merchants pay a yearly fee for downtown parking.
“It was brought to my attention that in the last five years approximately over $400,000 has been spent by merchant’s paying,” Hofer said.
Derald Payne of Dickinson, spoke on behalf of the Sunset Senior Citizens Center, and said while the park would be too far for many seniors to walk, the center also experiences frequent parking problems.
“Our senior members try to come to the events and they can’t find a place to park and so they go home,” Payne said. “This occurs on a daily basis.”
Colleen Rodakowski, executive director of Elder Care, said the transit vehicles often have issues dropping people off or picking people up downtown and sometimes have to circle the block a few times to find a safe spot.
Several people said the park is hardly used.
“I think we all know this park needs some energy, needs some revitalization,” Keogh said. “We think this is a park that should stay in downtown Dickinson, but it’s got to have some help.”
If the commission decides to transform the park, the forestry committee would appreciate an opportunity to move any trees and shrubbery, Keogh said.
“There’s no sense in wasting that investment in green items that we all seem to appreciate anyway,” Keogh said.
Ideas were thrown out as to how to alleviate the issue.
Mundy said if the city lot to the west of the former train depot, were fixed and properly signed, it would be a help to the downtown area parking crunch.
Mundy cited increased downtown parking as a return on an investment, with higher sales tax collections and special assessment collections if the area was more accessible.
Payne suggested the city look at the possibility of building a parking ramp.
It is unclear when the matter will be revisited.
“Our committee is not here to take a position on what the commission ought to do,” Keogh said. “We would prefer that you find an alternative to an existing park … an existing park that has already had public funds put into it and developed.”
In other news:
The city is mulling over a cell phone policy for its employees.
“The policy was created because cell phones obviously have been ubiquitous in our society for quite some time, but yet we don’t have any formal policy regarding their use or their distribution within the city of Dickinson,” said City Administrator Shawn Kessel.
The policy will go before the Civil Service Commission for review in April.