Past comprehensive parking study ignored

June 12, 2014

I feel compelled to correct a few statements regarding parking made by Pat Coluzzi in a recent letter to the editor. I appreciate the time and effort she has put in as both commissioner and on the transportation committee. However, I suggest Pat has forgotten that in 2007, the city commissioned a comprehensive parking study as part of the overall study of a new City Hall complex (the first city hall study, not the current one).

It is bewildering to me that certain city leaders continue to ignore this study even though it was commissioned by them. The study included a thorough look at all the on-street parking, a comprehensive occupancy study of on-street spaces, and a comprehensive feasibility study of a potential new parking structure.

Not only was the 91-page report filled with facts and data delivered to the commissioners, a presentation was made to them in 2007.

In addition to all the on street data, the study included a review of potential sites within the city, operating suggestions, and a schematic design and feasibility figures for a three-story and four-story structure. Pat Coluzzi asserts that studies in the past only studied 200-360 spaces and would remain vacant for nine months of the year. In fact, 300-413 spaces were studied and included all needed parking for current city employees. In the 413 space scenario, there is a net gain of 340 spaces. Those are badly needed 340 spaces for a $72,000 gain in the best case and a minimal $180,000 loss in the worst case scenario. (That works out to be only a little over $525 per space per year loss).

The study also suggested ways to utilize the garage for a nominal fee in the off season during very popular events like Sea Witch, sidewalk sales days, Christmas tree lighting, and events at the convention center. The city was presented with “worst case,” “expected case” and “best case” scenarios. Even the three-level structure “worst case” had a minimal loss of $175,000 a year and the “best case” had a gain of $60,000. These numbers were comprehensive and included operating expenses, debt service costs (at a 7 percent rate!), insurance and utilities.

Parking is a vital part of economic development. It cannot be ignored in any comprehensive city plan. Parking goes hand in hand with a good transportation policy that includes ride share, bikes and alternative modes of transportation. Today’s parking professional is well versed on not only parking, but also transportation disciplines. Good alternative transportation and parking are vital for the city to succeed. They are not and should not be looked at in an either/or scenario. I support Tom McGlone’s attempt to open up the discussion of added parking within the city as part of the city hall reevaluation.

Linda L. Kauffman

past chair

International Parking Institute

executive director, retired

Allentown Parking Authority

past president

Pennsylvania Parking Association

past member

Rehoboth Beach Parking and Transportation Committee

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