For example, on Tuesday night, May’s Garden Center owner Mark May, in an articulate and poised presentation, warned the members of the Common Council that the diminished access to his store on the north side of Wisconsin Avenue, caused by the reconfiguration of the Village Green had already hurt his business. He said that delivery trucks, often delivering tons of product, had an extremely difficult time maneuvering into position to make deliveries at the back of the store.
May asked if the City was comfortable having delivery trucks double-park on Wisconsin Avenue to make deliveries. He suggested that when this happens, it creates a safety issue for drivers and pedestrians. In addition, one of his regular customers, Lois Jackson, said that moving the city-owned parking lot so FLV could be built would create problems for people like her who would now have to park in the new city lot on the corner of St. Paul and Pleasant streets. Walking 60-70 yards, especially in the winter, would be a major challenge and a potential safety issue, she said.
Parking behind the businesses on the north side of Wisconsin Avenue has always been an issue. Especially for delivery trucks. Now, however, with the extension of the Village Green to the edge of Fowler Lake, the roadway/alley that served as an entrance/exist off Main Street is gone.
Numerous people, at various meetings, have complained about the parking problems and their concerns are legitimate. They are also not new. For more than a decade people have been searching for answers (remember the multi-million dollar, multi-story parking ramp idea?). Before FLV the issue was the new Community Center and its absence of parking next to the facility. It still is an issue.
At an extreme, some people want to limit the parking in the downtown area and open it up to more pedestrian and bicycle traffic. This, they add ,would also also allow for more green space, trees, and outdoor activities.
So, as with Fowler Lake Village, there is no clear consensus on how to adequately address the parking issues that abound in the downtown. Until one is reached, no development in the downtown will be immune from attacks that are ancillary to the primary discussion. Let’s hope that city leaders, both political and business, recognize that the time for solutions is now and that until they are implemented, downtown redevelopment remains in jeopardy.