Dirty Bucks and Studies (Downtown Fayetteville)

Growing up as a young man in the Episcopal Church in North Carolina meant you had to dress in a decent manner every Sunday. A suit wasn’t required, and except for Easter and Christmas, a dress shirt and khakis made due.

The footwear of choice (or chosen for you) as a young kid in the late 80’s and early 90’s were dirty bucks. These were essentially brown leather/suede shoes with orange-reddish rubber soles. They were bad:

Image result for dirty bucks

To make matters worse, they never fit you right. You were either in constant pain because you had out-grown last year’s pair, or you looked goofy as all get out because the new “bucks” handed-down from a friend or relative were way too big. There was never anything right about these shoes, but mom always made sure you had a pair lined up for that particular season.

Growing Pains

This week, the Fayetteville Observer’s Editorial Board gave the “all clear” for parking in downtown Fayetteville, despite the news that multiple downtown businesses are losing revenue due to decreased parking availability as a result of the new stadium. In a piece entitled “Downtown parking not the threat it’s billed as, but plan needs work,” the paper had this to say:

We will caution that stakeholders should approach this process with realistic expectations. It does not strike us as realistic that downtown parking will continue to be as it has in the past. Chalk it up to growing pains related to a stadium and related projects that is bringing more than $100 million in investment downtown and, according to (Mayor) Colvin, has brought 350,000 people downtown since April, which includes Dogwood Festival numbers. A more robust, busier downtown creates parking demands; rate hikes would inevitably follow.

I’d like to hone in on this a bit:

This is the same editorial board that endorsed the use of tax payer dollars for the Prince Charles Holdings parking deck next to the stadium over a year ago saying:

“The parking deck is likely to get plenty of use by the hotel, the office building and the ballpark, as well as by downtown visitors.”

Now that we know that statement is false and there will only be 32 public spaces in the 492-space deck, the Observer is telling Fayetteville to suck it up. We’re all overreacting and we need to be “realistic”:

Are Fayetteville residents scaring themselves to death over downtown parking?

Maybe.

Maybe we wouldn’t be overreacting if we were told the truth about the deal from the beginning? Which leads me to the word of the day:

Fayetteville built a 4,786 seat stadium downtown and added no parking infrastructure to support it. If that seems strange to you, you’re on track.

For example, if you and I decided to build a theatre, stadium, or other large public venue in Fayetteville (outside of downtown) we would have to include parking facilities in our plans before the City would let us lay a brick. In fact, we’d have needed 1 parking space for every 4 seats according to the city code:

Again, the parking requirements don’t apply to Downtown, so the City isn’t really breaking its own rules as much as it’s ignoring its own recommendations.

But they’ve got it covered, don’t worry:

 Here’s a copy of the comprehensive study if you want to read it:

If you don’t want to read it it, let me summarize it in one sentence: We paid a bunch of money to people from outside of Fayetteville to come in and tell us that everything was going to work out fine.

Like many government-funded studies, we shaped it to our desired outcome. Of course, movers and shakers inside Fayetteville played a part. Even our former Mayor offered his “nice” personality to the study’s advisory board to ensure that the paper covered the parking issue in an “exciting” way. City Manager Doug Hewett accepted his offer by text message:

Special Meeting Called

Tonight, the City Council has called a special meeting to deal with downtown parking. Apparently, the study didn’t tell us everything we needed to know. Maybe it was never supposed to???

I think this meeting is for political show alone. After all, this is an election year, and the optics of paying millions more for a private parking deck in the face of a public parking shortage are…well…poor.

In the end, what can they really do? Our city leaders can’t solve the problem they created when they made the decision to bring thousands of people downtown with no infrastructure to support them:

Last year’s dirty bucks are too small, and there’s no hand-me-downs available.

 

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