Regarding Ms. Belding’s thoughts on Mr. Costello’s thoughts on the parking garage, and as someone who drives and parks routinely in Montpelier, I disagree with Ms. Lori Belding and Ms. Barbara Conrey.
Montpelier is an eminently walkable town. We need to take great care to keep it that way. Stumbling over ourselves, damaging our political process, to bring more cars into the city is not our best option.
Our riverfront, especially the North Branch, is invaluable now and into the future. A Riverwalk akin to San Antonio is a real possibility for our future, from the confluence all the way to the Lane Shops, but only if we are careful now. Our year 2000 Montpelier Master Plan and vision document emphasized the importance of preserving our riverfront spaces for recreation, arts and open space. Not parking garages.
Rushing headlong into a permanent destruction of that riverfront and precluding open space is unwise, reckless and wasteful. There are other sound options for both parking and a hotel that should be more carefully considered. Jumping at the Bashara proposal, then shifting the liability to the city for the garage, is not only unwise, it may well be way more expensive than we are yet aware.
We have yet to complete any credible traffic impacts analysis of what traffic flows might be more suitably accommodated by satellite parking lots at the routes 2 and 302 roundabout, Montpelier Junction, yes, even legislators can be required to park outside of the downtown area.
Nor have we completed any detailed analysis of public micro-transit nor what beneficial impacts community rail might offer using reversible, self-powered cars, and how might these strategies reduce parking demands in downtown Montpelier and make it convenient and even fun to ride from Barre to Montpelier and on to Waterbury without a car.
Similarly, we have seen no study of the disastrous traffic impacts of embarking on multiple simultaneous construction projects, obstructing existing parking, transporting thousands of tons of contaminated soil, delivery trucks parking in the travel lanes of Main Street to unload, etc.
As we are the state capital, we must consider our stewardship of our fair city on behalf of all Vermonters and visitors for many years to come. Many of those people visiting would like to enjoy the small town, walkable village we have come to know and treasure. Attracting new masses of more cars to congest and ruin it will not be good for anyone.
Let’s not be reckless, selfish nor desperate in selecting the best parking, hotel and open space options. Let’s make sure we do our due diligence as to the financing, alternatives, and parking load demand reduction. We will all be better off and our city will become even more enjoyable.
Stephen Whitaker lives in Montpelier.