You are correct, summer of 2013 was a "Game Changer" for the influx of tourism and new buildings being up and running.I believe the Worth Lot would be ideal for a small, well and green designed garage, I would like to see, 400 or so spots, a "Green" low impact garage, impact mean the stormwater run off, and I would like to see a nice spot for bicycles, 24 hour surveillance, clean restrooms, for familys and children..rain gardens to catch stormwater.
I did vote to bring forth a design study for the Worth garage and I would continue to advocate for a garage in that part of town along with the other measures that are underway including securing other small lots--even if temporary--to add parking spots plus piloting a shuttle to remote lots. We don't have evidence yet that people are willing to walk very far from the Masonic lot or the South Mill pond lot but perhaps they will be willing to take a parking shuttle. Since the shortage is about 600 spaces, the problem is unlikely to be solved without at least one garage which is a very sustainable way to address parking. I like the idea of encouraging walking and biking (which I do myself) but that is unrealistic for most travelers to our City as well as families and our older population.
We do indeed need additional parking in the downtown area. This has been a critical issue for 50+ years. A new garage at the Worth lot, a future new garage to be included in the McIntire site will be a good start. However, parking and our transportation system must be a mix of creative solutions such as satellite parking, valet parking, public/private parking arrangements must also be used to solve the problem.
Regretfully some of our city policies have only made parking worse. We rent out spaces for $100 per month and then hold spaces in case a pass holder needs to use the garage. For all of the notices that we see about the garage being full, it rarely if ever is truly full. A friend of mine lives downtown. He has a city parking pass rather than use his building's parking because the city's parking is cheaper. We have created policies of giving a free hour of parking to people and keeping the parking rate cheap to fill the garage. We do need to come up with parking solutions and we continue to add spaces, and will do so as construction slows in the downtown. Spaces are blocked off, construction workers take up spaces, and worst of all, new buildings are not being held accountable to provide their own parking. The city has to do a better job of helping builders to know what we expect of them. I wouldn't be running for office had we not done such a poor job. I'm also concerned that we sold the Connie Bean and haven't really provided our youth and other citizens with an equivalent place. When we sold the Connie Bean Center we lost parking. When a developer had construction complications we rolled over and didn't require the necessary parking. We need to be a lot smarter in planning, and we have to wisely use our existing resources.
There needs to be a plan for distributed parking which is surface parking in different areas which will increase the number of parking spaces without building a parking garage. At the City Council meeting on Monday, October 21st, I will be giving a report about parking spaces.
We need to look at the big picture when we talk about parking. The question should be what are our transportation needs in Portsmouth. These needs are not just down town. We have heard from the Portsmouth Listens. Our transportation needs includes everything from a city that is walkable, sidewalks and lights on Route 1, public transportation for our growing number of seniors, to supporting our downtown business and educating people an where the parking is. With all of these issues we are not thinking about today but we must think about what we want Portsmouth to be in the future!
It is essential that we address the current parking deficit not only for the business community and visitors, but most importantly for residents—many of whom do not come into town because of the parking shortage. Given the critical need for additional parking spaces downtown, we must consider every potential municipal and private location for a new parking garage downtown. We should also push more aggressively to obtain the federal McIntyre Building and ensure that parking is an integral part of any redevelopment plan for the building. We should better utilize our current garage by eliminating the first hour for free and adding a valet service. Finally, we should promote existing satellite parking locations and identify other satellite options with adequate shuttle service.
There is no question but that additional parking needs to be created, but I am unwilling to do so at the cost of destroying Portsmouth’s historical heritage and it essential charm and character, all of which have already been severely damaged by rampant overdevelopment. For the latter reasons, I am strongly opposed to the construction of any new above-ground parking garage, either on the Worth lot or anywhere else in the downtown area.I favor underground parking garages, for they would ameliorate the parking problem without further destroying downtown Portsmouth’s charm and beauty or further blocking its water views. However, I believe that the cost of same should be borne primarily by those who stand primarily to benefit from it: the hotels, the bars and restaurants, and, to a lesser extent, the other downtown businesses. (A downtown retail store typically has only 5-10 customers in its shop at any given moment, and those customers typically stay for only 10-15 minutes. A restaurant, by contrast, typically seats upwards of 20 people at a time, and those diners typically stay for 45 minutes to an hour or more, taking up a corresponding amount of parking time.) The Ocean Road resident, the Elwyn Park resident, and the Banfield Road resident has little to gain by the construction of a new downtown parking garage, except on a once-in-awhile basis, even though his tax money would be used to build it. The downtown business owners, and particularly the restaurant owners, are the ones who are doing most of the clamoring for a new parking garage, and they are the ones who will benefit the most from it if it is built. They should be required to pay their fair share to build it, and it should be an underground, not an above-ground, parking garage.Other potential solutions to the parking problem are already being discussed, and I support them. They include shuttle service to satellite parking lots, stimulating the more widespread use of public transportation, and making the downtown area more accessible via bicycle travel. Additionally, as a July 27, 2013 article in the Portsmouth Herald showed, many of our available parking resources that already exist--such as free daytime parking lots that are within easy walking distance of the downtown area--are being underutilized. Maybe the solution to such underutilization is simply to educate the public and visitors as to their availability, perhaps (as has been suggested by others) with the help of apps that assist travelers in finding parking lots where open parking spaces are available.