Northfield News article on parking management

Northfield News
The Northfield News published an article today about the downtown parking management project.  I’ve added my entire answer to the News’ reporter Kaitlyn Walsh (@NFNKaitlyn) as there were topics covered in the e-mailed questions that were not included in the newspaper article.  Here’s my e-mail:

Kaitlyn -

I have copied the NDDC President, Greg Kneser, and the Chair of the NDDC’s Parking Task Force, Keith Covey.  I have also copied the Parking Management Team, Chris Heineman and Griff Wigley.

In my opinion, the purpose of the conversation is to generate ideas, and reactions to ideas, from stakeholders, about parking management.  Personally, I define parking management as managing your existing parking resources in an effort to maximize effectiveness and efficiencies.

It is my understand that the entities involved in this parking management project, the City Council, the City staff, and the NDDC, hope that a secondary result of this work will be a replicable model for citizen engagement.  City Administrator Tim Madigan has referred to it as an “Experiment” and I think this is a smart framing of the effort, recognizing both the secondary goal and the innovative aspect.  Northfield is blessed with many smart, creative, and passionate people, finding a model or method to engage their talents and include their contributions could enhance future projects and initiatives.

You’d probably be better off asking City Administrator Tim Madigan or members of the 2012 Council, perhaps in particular the downtown Councilors, about the decision regarding the NDDC’s role.  However, I’ll take a shot at it.  Based on my observations at the Council meetings, it seems to me that the NDDC was chosen to lead this effort for at least two reasons.  The first is that the NDDC has been working to enhance downtown parking since the birth of the organization in 2000; it has always been a priority for our stakeholders.  The second is that the stakeholders who experience the greatest economic impact of the parking supply and demand in downtown, the building and business owners, have worked with the NDDC on this issue for many years.

We, the parking management team, are meeting this week to detail the schedule.  I believe there was some early discussion about completing this work in the first quarter, however, there are some other topics/priorities on the Council’s agenda/plan that may shape our schedule.  In an early meeting with City staff and downtown Councilors, it seemed, at least to me, that assuring significant and meaningful engagement with stakeholders was more important than an end-date on a timeline.

The one thing that I would add is the expression of my personal and professional appreciation to the 2012 City Council for their incredible work on and contributions to the downtown parking issue.  It’s an issue that has been identified and discussed at least as far back as the 1970s.  The 2012 Council looked at the issue, including past reports from consultants and current input from stakeholders, worked through their various perspectives on and philosophies about parking, and ultimately determined to move forward with some enhancement of parking but also to find some ways of increasing leverage from existing parking.  They thought not only about the present but also the future.

I hope this gives you enough for your article,

Ross

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2 thoughts on “Northfield News article on parking management

  1. Margit Johnson

    Ross, my long term memory is vague, but there is another parking study sitting on a shelf somewhere in City Hall. I recall serving on a downtown transportation and parking task force some time in the 1980’s. I have no recollection if that study would shed any light on the current discussion.

    Two more recent ideas: Steve Edwins designed some parking structures early in his architectural career and has some good ideas for easy on-street access to a tiered structure on the Washingon and 5th Sts. lot. It would be interesting to know how much the City invested in the ’70′s to make that lot happen (land acquisition, building removal, etc.). It was an important investment in the downtown 40 years ago. Might it be time to make another such investment?

    The other idea is seen in drawings by MS&R architect Jack Poling in 2008. Five years ago when the City and Library Board explored the feasibility of expanding the library on its current site, Mr. Poling was asked to draw up both surface and tiered parking in that 3rd and Washington Sts. area. You can find his ideas on pp. 18-22 in http://ci.northfield.mn.us/assets/l/Library-Existing_Building_Expansion_Feasibility_Study.pdf. Combining the existing city parking lots to the north and southof the existing white apartment building could create more spaces more efficiently.

    Margit

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