Now ripening on the desks of the Common Council is a zoning amendment that would eliminate all offstreet parking requirements. Anyone who follows the Zoning Board of Appeals knows that the appeal most frequently before the board is one for an area variance related to parking. The code requires that eating and drinking establishments provide one offstreet parking space for every three seats in the restaurant. The requirement is totally unrealistic in an urban setting such as Hudson, and the ZBA regularly grants area variances to new restaurants and bars that cannot meet the offstreet parking requirement. Such a variance was granted just this past Monday to the new owners of 60 South Front Street, who are redeveloping the building as a restaurant and grab-and-go cafe.
In the past, there has been talk of building a multilevel parking garage to accommodate visitors to Hudson and patrons of the city's shops, restaurants, and cultural venues. In 2010, Mayor Rick Scalera had the idea of building such a parking garage on the northeast corner of Fourth and Columbia streets. In 2014, Mayor Bill Hallenbeck wanted to build a four-tier parking garage behind City Hall. More recently, one of the three ill-fated proposals for the Kaz site included a parking facility for 400 cars. To assess Hudson's present and future parking needs and determine if a parking garage somewhere near Warren Street was really necessary, the City applied for a grant last year to fund a parking study. The application was not successful.
At the Common Council Public Works and Parks Committee meeting last Wednesday, DPW superintendent Rob Perry presented his own Parking Space Inventory, estimating how many parking spaces existed on the street and in municipal parking lots.
The total, which includes every parking space in the entire city not just those within easy walking distance of Warren Street, is 4,242. Of more relevance when considering parking for those who come to Hudson to shop, dine, visit galleries, or attend events is that there are 469 parking spaces along Warren Street and 364 parking spaces in municipal lots on Warren Street or within one block of Warren Street, for a total of 833 spaces. Also of relevance is that the two biggest municipal lots near Warren Street--the one at 325 Columbia Street and the one behind City Hall--are rarely used in the evening or on weekends. The narrow passageway beside City Hall may discourage some people from using the lot in the 500 block, but there's another, less intimidating route to that parking lot next to The Barlow, and, to access the lot at 325 Columbia Street, there's a ramp next to a pleasant little pocket park.
Could it be that inadequate signage is what is keeping people from using these parking lots?
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