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Parking time limits not the answer

Tribune Staff • Mar 17, 2017 at 2:00 PM

City officials are mulling over ways to improve parking in downtown Grand Haven, which is certainly a worthwhile topic for discussion.

However, one of their proposed solutions — instituting a three-hour limit in several key lots — would likely do more harm than good.

We want a vibrant downtown, a place where people are excited to visit without fear of returning to their car to find a dreaded ticket tucked under their windshield wipers.

People come into Grand Haven to shop, eat and enjoy the beautiful resources such as the boardwalk along the Grand River. We don’t want visitors who have stopped inside a handful of local shops, grabbed dinner at a local restaurant and enjoyed a beverage at a local brewery to have to cut their visit short because they’ve exceeded the allotted time in a municipal parking lot.

It’s not like there’s a shortage of parking. In fact, a recent parking study of the entire downtown area revealed a surplus of parking spaces available.

The problem? Specific areas — those closest to restaurants and stores — have a parking shortage, with surplus space located in other lots, typically those a little farther out of the way.

What does that mean? Well, it means we’re lazy. We don’t want to park more than a few steps from the front door of whatever establishment we mean to visit. That’s certainly a product of living in a small town, where parking is rarely an issue.

Visit a larger metropolitan area and you’ll quickly realize that finding a spot within three or four blocks of your destination is considered a major score, and finding that spot for free is almost unheard of.

Another issue is that there’s some confusion as to which lots are open to public parking and which are not. Perhaps a better solution than time limits would be to establish signage that is present at every public parking lot clearly stating any restrictions (no overnight parking, etc.). That way, people looking for a parking spot will immediately recognize which lots are available for public use and which lots might lead to a costly ticket or towing bill.

Another suggestion to help ease the parking burden in downtown is to utilize a shuttle, such as the Harbor Transit Beach Express. On summer weekends, the shuttle bus makes the rounds from Grand Haven City Beach to several parking lots outside of downtown.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Mark Brooky. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.

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