Many of us mourn the loss of buildings that have been replaced by parking lots. The home of Elihu and Eliza Gifford, which once stood at the corner of Sixth and Columbia streets, now a parking lot . . .
|Walker Evans Archive | Metropolitan Museum of Art
the Fourth Street School at Fourth and State streets, now a parking lot . . .
In his presentation of the findings of the parking study on Tuesday, Jon Forster, Parking and Mobility Planner for Fishbeck, the group from Grand Rapids, Michigan, contracted to do Hudson's parking study, seemed to suggest that our current parking challenges may exist because not enough buildings were sacrificed to create parking lots. In comments made before the presentation of the study actually began on Tuesday, Forster spoke of the "dilapidated old garages" in Hudson's alleys which could be removed or replaced by newer structures to provide more opportunities for offstreet parking. For many, those "dilapidated old garages" are an important part of Hudson's character and should be preserved not sacrificed to get cars off the street. Although at the end of this presentation, Forster told the city officials present at the meeting, "Hudson is awesome. I liked being here," it wasn't clear that he actually "got" Hudson. Still, the findings of his parking study contain some important information and recommendations.
Forster reported that 85 percent of Hudson's public parking is onstreet parking. He observed that eliminating offstreet parking requirements in the code, as Hudson did in 2019, was "consistent with national trends," but cautioned that we were very close to exhausting our parking capacity. He predicted that hotel growth would increase car use and opined that the "aggressive goal to reduce car trips is a heavy lift for Hudson" and pursuing it might be "shooting yourself in the foot."
One solution for parking often suggested is a parking garage. On the subject of parking garages, Forster maintained that they don't have to be ugly while allowing that most are. He suggested two different configurations for a parking garage on Columbia Street behind City Hall.
That site, currently owned by the Galvan Foundation, is where in February 2021 Galvan, in partnership with Benchmark Development, proposed a mixed-use building with 68 market rate apartments and a parking garage for tenants.
Forster made lots of recommendations--scrap the ancient parking meters, most of which don't work, in favor of a system where QR codes allow people to make mobile payments and access parking maps; increase parking fees; improve enforcement; make county parking lots and private lots available to the public at night and on weekends; eliminate or limit restricted parking spaces.
The one overriding recommendation Forster made was to create a parking bureau or a parking authority dedicated to future planning and managing parking. Currently the responsibility for parking--from making policy and setting fees to maintaining equipment and enforcement--is spread out among several different entities--the Police Department, the Department of Public Works, the Common Council, the Mayor's office. A parking bureau or parking authority would be self-sufficient, funded by the revenue from parking, which Forster estimated to be about $1 million annually, and dedicated to enhancing parking and mobility throughout the city. If such an agency existed, as Forster described it, when a new hotel or apartment building or entertainment venue came before the Planning Board, instead of having to rely on a parking study commissioned by the applicant, the Planning Board would consult the Parking Bureau, with its intimate and up-to-date knowledge of parking in Hudson, for an opinion on whether or not adequate accommodation was being made for parking.
The next step it seems in addressing parking in Hudson is the formation of a Common Council ad hoc committee to study and consider the recommendations of the parking study.
Forster's entire presentation can be viewed here.
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