The adjectives that come to my mind for parking structures all start with d: Dark, dirty, drafty and dank. And possibly dangerous as well, especially late at night. That’s why I hope all this talk about a parking structure in downtown Albany is just that and nothing more.
Back in 2001, when the downtown urban renewal district known as CARA was formed, the list of 51 possible projects did include two parking structures. A “government center parking structure” with ground floor retail or office space was proposed near City Hall and the Linn County Courthouse. It was No. 27 on the list. No. 28 was a multi-story parking structure on Water Avenue east of Lyon.
The projects were put on the list but never seriously considered. Since then the city has conducted one or more surveys that found no serious parking problem downtown. Still, in 2011 or thereabouts an updated downtown “refinement” plan called for a parking structure at Water and Broadalbin where the Eagles lodge is situated. The Eagles took vigorous exception, and nothing more was heard of that.
The topic came up again last week, briefly, as the CARA board considered a potential streetscape improvement plan. And at the city council meeting Wednesday (Oct. 28), Councilor Rich Kellum floated this idea: If there’s ever to be a parking structure, how about building it closer to the center of downtown rather than on the riverfront? He suggested that it be put on the city-owned parking lot of Two Rivers Market.
Parking may become an issue once the Albany Museum starts drawing bigger crowds downtown. But even then, multi-story structures are not the solution from my point of view. I spend quite a bit of time downtown and I enjoy it. I would quit going there if it meant parking on some drafty level above the street. (hh)