Parking is an amenity cities across the United States need to take seriously.
It is often an important part of development projects and overall quality of life. One of the first things considered during discussions about the economic impact of a proposed development within the city or what it offers residents – depending on the type of development – is some sort of a parking plan. It’s no different in the city of St. Joseph.
According to retail expert Bob Gibbs, every on-street parking space in a thriving retail district is worth $250,000 in sales to nearby merchants on that street. The 2011 article on bettercities.net also stated people will walk much further along an interesting main street to get from their parking space to the store they’re going to than they will walk from a parking lot. Two words: Minnesota Street.
From people stopping to have lunch during breaks in the day to students meeting for coffee before class, Minnesota Street often buzzes with activity. This activity comes not only from residents but visitors.
According to some, parking has always been an issue for the city of about 7,000 residents. As the city continues to grow, ways to improve parking is often at the center of discussions between elected officials.
The St. Joseph Economic Development Authority has devoted several meetings to the development of a downtown master plan. City leaders went as far as to color in areas for more parking in the downtown on a map. More meetings are planned to develop plans for downtown, and there is no doubt parking will enter talks again.
The St. Joseph City Council held a work session recently to get an update on the proposed government center/community center. While the city continues to shape the vision for the new building, one of the things that came up during the meeting was parking. Officials were asked to consider purchasing land for additional parking, if necessary. No decision was made at the work session. However, St. Joseph Mayor Rick Schultz made a comment about possibly developing a parking plan for the city.
Even though it seems there are countless meetings of officials, and results seem to take forever to bloom, a parking plan is one idea that cannot afford to wait. Even if it’s incorporated into the master plan for downtown, it must be addressed with actual steps to make a difference.
Yes, all plans take time to develop and, of course, money to implement. A citywide parking plan or even one solely for the downtown would be a great first step toward improving the city of St. Joseph.