Parking impasse grips council

One proposed parking solution is to designate 11 of these 19 spaces as 3-hour spots for downtown customers and people with employee parking permits.

Downtown parking near the Albany Carousel and the post office continues to take up the city council's time. The council Monday reached no conclusions but agreed to again seek possible solutions at a work session in two weeks.

The carousel, open since Aug. 15, is looking for ways that its volunteers, some of whom are said to be elderly, don't have to hunt for a parking space when they arrive for their three-hour shifts. Steve Reynolds, speaking for the carousel, told the council the organization does not want volunteers hit with parking tickets.

Downtown parking enforcement is run by ParkWise, an arm of the Albany Downtown Association. Lise Grato of the association told the council she suspended enforcement while the council considers the issue.

On Calapooia Street on the west side of the Albany Post Office, the city this year built 19 back-in angled parking spaces where there had been eight parallel spaces before. Mayor Sharon Konopa favors designating at least the additional 11 spaces for three-hour parking by either customers or employees.

Those 19 spaces, according to the Downtown Association's Grato, are always full on non-holidays, and current users include five employees from the nearby Loafers restaurant, nine to 11 postal workers, one or two carousel "team members," and one or two employees working in the Raybar Building one block to the east.

On Second Avenue at the post office, the back-in angled parking is rarely used. Among possible reasons, Grato said, is that people fear getting a ticket if they have to wait in the post office line for more than 30 minutes. She suggested that the time limit there be raised to three hours. That would also allow parking by visitors to the Monteith House, the carousel, and Loafers.

From Councilman Rich Kellum came the idea that with bus service from Heritage Mall, volunteers could park there and catch a bus to their carousel shifts.

When the carousel opened, the city parks department put up signs deterring parking at the nearby Albany Senior Center and Monteith Riverpark for anything other than visitors to the park or senior center.

So as you can see, parking in that part of downtown has become a can of contentious worms. We'll see on Oct. 23 if the council can find its way out. (hh)

On Aug. 16, this city-owned lot next to the carousel was all but empty, but parkers without permits were threatened with being towed.

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