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Alpena Parking, Through My Eyes
June 6, 2013 - Steve Schulwitz
The Alpena Downtown Development Authority and the City of Alpena claim there are about 1,000 parking spaces in the immediate downtown area and if they are utilized properly parking problems will not be an issue if and when a downtown plaza is constructed. After Monday I'm not as convinced about that as I was a week ago.
Let me tell you about my experience.
I needed to take my guitar into a local business on Second Avenue for some minor maintenance and forget the city's parking lot behind the Owl Cafe was closed due to a resurfacing project. Because it was not available I was forced to find an alternate place to leave my car. No biggie right?
I'm sad to say it was more of an adventure and hassle than I had hoped.
I took the one-way street, Third Avenue, to Chisholm Street so I could park behind the Take-5 Deli, but I once again came up empty in my search for a vacant space when I arrived and was sent looking again for other options. I proceeded down the one-way on Second Avenue and attempted to park behind the Cellar Restaurant only to find a few handicap parking slots were vacant and thus needed to make my way back to Chisholm, completing my circle. I finally came to rest in an open spot in the Culligan Plaza parking lot, which was only a short walk to the store. The walk didn't bother me, it was the time spent finding open parking. Ugh. I hate to say it but it seemed like a lot of hassle and I'm afraid if the plaza is built without an alternative for parking being in place businesses could suffer, no matter how good the intent from the DDA and city is. I think it is fair to say I'm probably not the only driver who has been frustrated for the same reasons since the parking lot was closed.
I know some will ask why I didn't leave my car at the paper and walk over to the music store. The truth is I was out looking for photos for the paper and decided to drop off my Ibanez in the spur of the moment and figured I just whip into a parking lot and run in quickly. Now I know I will be further ahead leaving my car at work when heading downtown. For some though that won't be good enough and they will just abandon plans on visiting downtown altogether if this is what transpires when the plaza is built.
What concerns me is the parking dilemma came during the middle of the week, while people were still at work and kids in school. What will happen when traffic picks up and visitors come to Alpena? I can only assume it will be even more difficult.
I don't want people to think I am against the plaza, because I love the idea and want to see it become a reality, as long as it doesn't hinder folks. I know the people involved are much more knowledgeable about the logistics surrounding the plaza, parking and accessibility downtown than I, but from this single experience it made me question the issue somewhat. If it made me question it and frustrated me after only one experience, how will it weigh on a visitor, let alone someone who deals with the parking situation and traffic downtown daily?
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