My turn: Parking garage is the right thing

Posted: Friday, April 25, 2008

Why does Juneau need another parking garage downtown?

Please take a moment to consider this issue because it is most important to the business and health of our capital.

Have you ever come downtown to shop, eat or attend an event, circled around and around about five times and been unable to even find a spot to park your umbrella? When that happens, what do you do? You are likely to just give up and go home. Have you been called for jury duty and wondered where you are going to park? How many times have you or someone you know avoided going downtown because of the parking problems? This is not a healthy scenario for our downtown.

Now, with the loss of the sub port area, the need for solutions is even greater. There have been several opinions expressed on this page, and the subject is clearly of common interest. While many of the these opinions contain helpful ideas that would be useful if implemented, such as carpooling and establishing a park and ride system with Capital Transit, they will not of themselves solve the problem. Nor will the needed parking garage negate the benefit of these other efforts.

We should all work together to make downtown more accessible to everyone: those who commute at the same time everyday, those whose schedule is varied and unpredictable, those who come to Juneau to carry out government business and must have their own transport for the sake of efficiency, our friends from other Southeast communities who play an important role in supporting Juneau as a hub of Southeast commerce, and tourists who come on their own and stay long enough to rent cars to explore the area.

Improving the parking situation has been a long process. Several of the Downtown Business Association board members, including myself, were part of a committee who walked throughout the downtown area a few years ago, looking at all of the options for more parking. Nowhere did we find a space as well-situated as the lot next to Main Street. The planned facility is compatible with the city Waterfront Plan, and will complement future development in that area. To meet our needs now and in the future, the current city plan allows for a top floor that can be used as an arts and convention center and as a legislative hall.

Throughout the planning stages, there have been many suggestions on various aspects, some of which were accepted and some rejected. We have always come back to what is good for the entire community. In the end, somebody has to be able to know what is right and fair, and we look to the Juneau Assembly to find those boundaries. They may sometimes be wrong in our opinion, but they may just be right for the community.

It is time we looked to what is right. We feel that to build a new garage, which the voters have already approved, is the right thing to do.

• Ann House is president of the Downtown Business Association Board of Directors, and Larry Spencer is the treasurer.

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