Parking isn’t hard

OK, parallel parking can be hard. I hate parking my pickup on the passenger’s side on one-way streets.

And a couple of years ago I saw two women in a brand-new sports car on West Street. From what I overheard of their conversation, the driver was not the owner and so she pulled up next to a vacant space, they hopped out and switched sides, and the owner parked it so neither of them had to worry about the friend denting the owner’s new car … an elegant solution, I thought, to a tricky social situation.

But parking in downtown Rutland isn’t hard. Just fix the damned deck:

  • Put a person in that little booth from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and until midnight on weekends or when the Paramount has a show. Put in on a sliding scale: the first half-hour free, then $1 per hour up to a $4 daily maximum. That lets locals park cheaply and know they can find a spot under a roof while they run an errand or two.
  • Tourists won’t mind paying a little if they can find parking easily … I saw a parking lot in Manhattan proudly advertising the low, low rate of $9.50 per half hour; I’ve paid almost as much for overnight parking in Boston as to stay at a 4 1/2 star downtown hotel. These are your out-of-town customers. $4/day won’t scare them off.
  • Improve the signage so visitors can find the place, starting on Main Street.
  • Put in a lockable garage door at the top of the ramp for pass-card holders’ use 24/7, with obvious security cameras linked to the PD three blocks away to deter vandals … an overblown problem anyway, as the state went about two years between locking the gates and there just wasn’t a lot of vandalism.
  • Make sure the state is committed to buying passes for its employees before they sell the building to the city. Anybody who’s ever seen the place on a civil-service holiday understands how much the deck needs that business.
  • Let the Downtown Partnership and the Paramount each pick a certain number of nights per year they can offer free parking in the deck to patrons, with the city and the sponsoring organization splitting the cost of paying the attendant those nights.
  • Encourage merchants to redeem deck parking stubs with whatever minimum purchase seems reasonable. The DRP could consider reimbursing those merchants, because they are clearly attracting traffic to downtown businesses. Use a bar code and it would provide valuable tracking information as to how far people will walk and to where after they park.

Once you get the deck sorted out, you can worry about The Pit and the Parking Meters, to borrow a riff from Edgar Allen Poe. But the deck has the largest single supply of parking spaces outside the Plaza lot, and the state wants to get rid of it; shouldn’t it be a bigger priority than duking it out meter-by-meter?


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