DDA says no to paid parking

ALPENA — It could be a long time before there is paid parking in downtown Alpena.

At Tuesday’s Alpena Downtown Development Authority meeting, Chairman Mike Mahler provided an update on the idea, which was discussed at a recent parking committee meeting. The idea, which has been floated around several times, could include parking meters, or gated parking lots in which people pay to park.

Mahler said the committee believed after the recent backlash about converting Second Avenue from one-way to two-way traffic, it may be better to not pursue pay-to-park at this time.

“We saw the uproar the two-way street issue caused for just 100 yards on Second Avenue and if we start talking about putting paid parking, we just don’t think we will be able to get enough support,”

Even if the DDA were to support a plan for paid parking, Mahler said he didn’t believe municipal council would approve it after what happened with Second Avenue.

Council voted for the conversion at first, but as more people expressed concern, and a dry run showed how tight the passing lanes would be, council voted again on the issue and this time there was enough support to stop the project from moving forward. Mahler said he didn’t want to see the same scenario play out again.

“I think we have come to realize that anything this board has done has to be approved by council any way and it appears that would be an uphill battle,” he said.

Mahler didn’t rule out that the pay-for-parking issue won’t be reconsidered in the future, however.

“Right now the need isn’t great enough to take up this cause, so I think we should just let this sit for a while until such time to when things start really heating up downtown,” Mahler said. “If we see more development then we can adjust, but for now we’re just going to leave things alone and maybe fine tune some things as we go.”

The board voted to recommend to council one small parking change. The city owned parking lot on Carter Street, which handles overflow from the Holiday Inn Express, will now provide 24-hour parking year round. The recommendation will need to be approved by council at its Nov. 20 meeting.

In other business:

∫ Executive Director Anne Gentry said this year’s chowder and chili cookoff was a success. She said there were more people than in past years and more money was made. Gentry said the cookoff will be held again next year on either the first or second Saturday of October.

∫ the owner of Owl Cafe will pay $7,500 toward improvements to pocket park as his portion of payment for the canopy sails that were used at the park. The DDA will pick up the other half of the $15,000. The improvements to the park are expected to take place in the spring.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.