Parking discussions for downtown Alpena are nothing new and seem to cycle through the newspaper pages every couple years.
Parking discussions are healthy if they foster good ideas and stimulate creative solutions to the issue. Absent of solutions, however, they are frustrating and give residents something new to "grouse" about.
The Alpena Downtown Development Authority is studying the issue again. This time around, however, there is at least some consideration to bringing back meters to downtown streets. We hope that is all that it is - just talk - as we believe any move in that direction would be so regressive in nature it would seriously hamper the "vibe" going on downtown.
We agree downtown parking is an issue, but then, it always has been an issue. We believe the best solution to the parking problem would be to construct a two-story parking garage downtown, with spaces on one story leased by the city to downtown residents and workers. Under our proposal the city, or DDA, would receive new revenue and much of the current problems would be successfully addressed.
Unfortunately, the location we've always favored for such a lot is the current parking lot behind the Owl, the very same spot that currently is under consideration as a downtown plaza and public gathering spot.
The key to the downtown's parking issues is to find enough space for everyone that is within convenient walking distance. Parking on the fringes of the downtown, in our opinion, ultimately won't be as successful as planners might hope for.
We wish the DDA success in their efforts.
At the same time, we urge them to immediately remove meter discussions out of the conversation.
We want to see our downtown move forward, not step backward in time.