I went to the Commissioners Meeting last Thursday, as I wanted to hear the agenda item ‘Update on the County Services Building’. Despite what the Herald reports, I never made the suggestion that jurors have to park 3 blocks away. I recounted to the Commission the last time I served on a jury, the county I was in made me (and all other jurors) park three blocks away. This was evidence that the commission can dictate where jurors park, not a suggestion they follow that example.
While I was told there wasn’t an update, I shared my opinion to the Commission. Desert spaces for parking in the downtown area are bad for the city. In a time that many cities are desperately trying to reduce the amount of parking lots (https://www.wabe.org/atlanta-looks-solutions-city-s-parking-lot-deserts/) our County Commission is suddenly interested in addressing this problem for the City of Ste. Genevieve?
Make no mistake for the Commission’s reasoning here. They want to tear down this building and make a parking lot not from their interest in addressing the City’s parking problem, but to solve for their creation of a derelict building of their own neglect while gaining public support. Yes the building is ugly, yes the electric and plumbing are likely so costly that it would be more expensive to repair the building than to replace it. But buildings generate revenue, parking lots don’t. Currently that building doesn’t generate revenue, but it would in private hands. The AA meets there now. Would moving them out of downtown cause attendance to decline?
Now I have never said there isn’t a parking problem downtown, but I have said that no one knows for sure that there is one, or more importantly, that the creation of some new spaces is going to solve it. All we know are anecdotal evidence that sometimes people have a hard time finding a close spot. Emotional Cognitive Bias drives us to easily remember that time that caused frustration more than other times. Find a close spot: Great! (and subsequently forgot about it). How many times have you heard people rave about an abundance of parking anywhere versus complaining that it was difficult?
How about some new ideas for addressing this issue? Make more of downtown (particularly the areas surrounding the courthouse) 2 hour parking, and enforce it. This alleviates people parking in front of businesses for their entire workday or for jury duty.
Have a designated lot for jurors. (I was told about someone who “had to park all the way down at the old Basler Funeral Home for jury duty.”) Well that’s nearly the same distance as my house to the courthouse. I don’t ever see 3rd Street full of parked cars on jury days. But that’s anecdotal. We need some real data, from experts. Maybe partner up with a University for a City Master Plan for all of the Counties cities.
But the real point is, the County shouldn’t take the easy way out of the problems they created at a potential detriment to the City. Nor should they be making decisions that involve City Planning without knowing the benefits and potential harms it would create.
Take Responsibility and either repair or replace the building. Heck, put in a smaller building and gain some parking spaces. That’s a compromise. We need more of that.