Yesterday, the Fayetteville Observer reported on the parking study that was published on Cross Creek Divide a few days ago. The experts conducting the study encourage our city leaders to charge more for parking downtown. Read the Observer article here for a primer: Study Points to Paid Parking for Downtown Fayetteville.
The Observer interviewed the familiar talking heads for downtown, and it seems that all the experts think charging more for parking is a good idea. 95% of the comments to the article from regular citizens suggest otherwise.
What struck me was Jordan Jones’s take on the issue:
Jordan Jones, the project manager for converting the former Prince Charles Hotel into high-end condos with ground-floor restaurants, said this is the right time for the city to move ahead with a detailed parking plan.
“With all of the demand we’re adding, with all the new businesses we’re bringing down there, it is time to really shift over to paid on-street parking,” he said.
First off, why does Jones care? His parking needs are taken care of. The City is purchasing a brand new parking deck and then leasing it back to Prince Charles Holdings for insanely discounted rates:
So Jordan Jones and Prince Charles Holdings will get City-owned parking for $50/month or $1.66/day. Everyone else will be lucky to get $1.66/hour.
Is this fair to every other business downtown? Their customers will be filling up a running meter to buy a cup of coffee, shop for art, eat a fried turkey sandwich, or stop by for a meeting with their attorney. Many of these businesses invested in downtown long before “Project Homerun.”
There’s nothing immoral about making money, and we should encourage investment downtown, but when public resources are being used by private businesses to make said money or encourage said investment, I think we should be as fair and transparent as possible. That hasn’t happened in this case. If you think it has, ask a random person on the street whether the parking deck will be used for baseball games. You might be surprised by their response.
I’ll close this one with former mayor Tony Chavonne, who is in favor of more paid parking:
Chavonne said he expects some businesses to be opposed to paid park.
“Undoubtedly, with any kind of change, there will be people not necessarily supportive of this,” he said. “The city just can’t continue to give away its most valuable asset, and that is convenient parking. That just doesn’t even make any sense if you think about it.”
The City is already giving away its most valuable asset, to Prince Charles Holdings.
What doesn’t make sense, if you think about it, is that everyone else is going to pay for it.