Friday, December 14, 2007

Local Opinion

Letters to the editor
Link (JG)

Parking meters hurt downtown

"Very seldom do I venture into downtown Fort Wayne. However, after reading an article in the November “Fort Wayne” magazine and our recent visit to Ireland, we just had to try out J.K. O’Donnell’s Irish Ale House on Wayne Street.

Being unfamiliar with the downtown parking meters and estimating that we would be in the restaurant about an hour and a half, I realized the parking meter was only good for an hour. So I went inside, making a mental note that I would have to come back in an hour and put in more dimes.

Our excellent dining experience caused me to forget about the meter and I did not return to the car until we were done. There on my windshield was a yellow parking fine envelope.

It will be a long time before I again venture into downtown Fort Wayne when there are plenty of restaurants with free parking lots to be had just a little farther out of town.

We spend millions to create projects like Harrison Square when such a simple thing as eliminating downtown parking meters (as many communities have done) would certainly go a long way toward encouraging us to patronize downtown merchants."


Rachel said...

Ah, the Fort Wayne right to free parking absolutely next door to your desired location makes letters to the editor. He should have gone to JKO after 5, when parking was free, on Saturday, when parking was free, or realize that his $5 ticket was actually a pretty good deal for downtown parking. Or remember to feed the meter after an hour.

Somehow some Fort Wayne residents can't get their minds around urban living.

R. Mike said...

I'll share this experience only for amusement, not to make a point. Downtown parking is not an issue for me, as I choose to live downtown. One afternoon I was having lunch and a couple beers at JKO; and I watched a kitchen employee walk out the door, reload the meter directly across the street, then return to the kitchen. I suggest the writer use a Post-it note next time.

Fetchy said...

I was going to leave the same exact comment as Rachel.

$5 isnt bad for downtown parking. If you don't like it, come on the nights/weekends.

Come on people. Remember... Pay the quarters, or pay the ticket.

Steve said...


A long time ago I heard Ft. Wayne described as a big town trying to become a small city. I think that's often still the case. The complaints about downtown parking are a perfect example of this.

Obviously, there are a lot of good things about being a "town" -including seeing familiar faces around, but in other ways we need to grow. Having to pay for downtown parking is part of that price. And as R. Mike's story shows, if you took away the meters there would rarely be spots on the street - they'd be taken by downtown employees.

Change Fort Wayne said...

Actions and consequences are fun.

Its like this person was surprised there might be a consequence to letting your meter go empty.

John B. Kalb said...

The reality is that this person will not be returning to downtown for eats & drinks because there are alternatives that are easier on him than what he experienced. My 40 year old daughter has the same response to my question if she would shop downtown if we had more retail outlets - she said, why would I want to parallel park, pay to park and have to walk across busy streets to shop when I can go to any of our shopping centers without those hassles.
Besides, our city redevelopment and zoning people are still "pushing" suburban shopping centers - witness the new ones going up on Coldwater & DuPont and at Illinois Road & Thomas Road.
John B.Kalb

John B. Kalb said...

Correction - I should have said Lima Rd. & DuPont. John B. Kalb

Scott B. said...

I agree John. It is just the continuation of the irresponsible land use policy of the city.

However, I do not agree that downtown parking should be free. I am sorry your daughter doesn't want the "hassle" but I guess laziness is an epidemic in America. We think we are so entitled to any easy convenient lifestyle that we don't realize how that affects the policies our government makes. As long as your daughter's attitude remains in the collective minds of the people of Fort Wayne, there will never be progress. And politicians just bow to that attituce to get reelected.

Besides, by continuing to build useless strip-malls in the suburbs, the tax revenue goes up. A surface parking lot in the suburbs brings in a lot more tax dollars than a 25 cent parking meter. So besides people's attitudes about entitlement, it is economics on the government's side to compound the issue.

John B. Kalb said...

Scott B. - I don't believe it is laziness but a totally different life-style. In the 1950s, very few married woman worked outside the home. They could spend a leasurely day riding the streetcar or later the trolly bus to downtown, shop by walking from store to store then ride home after via public transportation. That is never going to return no matter what we offer downtown. Or do you see a return to one-earner families? John B. Kalb

Scott B. said...

It might not be laziness, but I think the argument could be made. However, as long as our attitude of spreading out but having a strip mall down the street isn't going to make downtown better. It has nothing to do with a society of one household incomes.

It is the philosophy of getting away from your neighbors. Instead of knowing them, you politely wave, maybe. We have undergone a complete change in how we address people and live our lives.

Now you have to drive your car everywhere, you didn't alway have to do that. It is a land use problem because of the backward county. They don't care if we continue to spread out. They are so short sighted that they don't see the long term consequences of their actions. And they are too happy to oblige because of the tax revenue. Hence the destruction of downtown in the first place. People will pay the money if they feel they get something out of it. Currently you don't get much for your 25 cents downtown, but that is changing.

Change the attitude and revitalization will happen. Don't and continue to see the destruction of the city.

Dave MacDonald said...

I don't understand the attitude of appealing to Fort Wayne residents for change while insulting them with words "laziness" and "backward."

I agree with John B.'s sentiments: the alternatives to downtown are more appealing than their own experiences or perceptions about it. Don't expect people to change by shoving the same argument down their throats (then insulting them to boot).

We'll never get anywhere with the progress desired by many until we break the current cycle. Forget about the "parking vs. free parking" issue. Think outside the box and propose something different. Find compromise for both sides with something not previously considered. The Downtown Experience must be unique and something they are unable to enjoy in the Burbs.

Many area residents are quite comfortable with their available options. What can we do to get them to WANT to come downtown? If we're not willing or able to invest that energy, I don't expect they'll make the effort to join us there.

Sorry for the rant. Been shoveling snow and I'm tired.

Dave MacDonald said...

So area residents are reluctant to visit downtown establishments due to the parking situation? How about one of these suggestions:

1.) Merchants pass out quarters to patrons visiting by car (or take 25 cents off the bill).
2.) Agree to take $5.00 off your next dinner if you get a parking fine while visiting their restaurant.

Many seem to forget that merchants in those 'undesirable' strip malls DO pay for their patron's parking. It's a provision in their lease. Downtown merchants might consider leveling the playing field.

R. Mike said...

That is the key, D-Mac. "The Downtown Experience must be unique" I guess that is why I like the HS idea. There is no minor league baseball in the suburbs. If you just build another Applebee's, why would someone drive downtown to eat there? I think more housing is a key, as that generates consumers that would rather not leave town to do business. I'm lazy, too. I want to stay downtown all the time.

Scott B. said...

The difference is, R. Mike, you would walk down the street or a couple of blocks to eat/shop. Instead of driving half a mile, parking close to the store and taking a 30 second walk inside.

That is what I meant by laziness. We want and expect to park as close as possible and we have to drive there to do it. How many people drive around in a parking lot at a mall or even some strip malls to find the closest parking space? I sometimes do because I just don't feel like walking very far to the store.

This is what I don't like about strip malls. They are so numerous, have all the same stores and create a ethos of laziness or over convenience if you like.

R. Mike said...

We are in complete agreement. I was probably being a bit facetious. Not even owning a car would be my perfect lifestyle. That's just not practical here and now. I ride my bike around town about 9 months out of twelve, and love the freedom that gives me. I live in Three Rivers, and actually wish even it was a couple blocks closer to the core!

Swanson said...

I can't believe people complain about stuff like this in Fort Wayne.

You wanna pay my $40 parking ticket from Chicago?