Saturday, March 06, 2010

After Roads, Parking Lots

Walking through Municipal Lot 6 recently, I was somewhat shocked to see widespread deterioration that I hadn't seen before this winter. As I recall, Lot 6 (behind Bill's Luncheonette) was the only city parking lot renovated in recent decades. Some may recall that the entrance and exit used to be at separate ends of the lot, with a small booth were a parking attendant took fees from those leaving the lot. When it was redesigned, entrance and exit lanes were both placed at the east end of the lot, but engineers apparently did not take into account the kind of traffic using the lot, because trucks ran over the edges of the lanes and reduced them to rubble. That is still going on, but now the lot surface itself is cracked and crumbling.

Given that it has taken about six years to achieve three years' worth of progress in road repair, how long will it take to get these parking lots repaired?

Lot 6 is possibly the most heavily used, being south of the busiest downtown block. Lots 8 and 8A are behind the north side of the block and were the site of a highly successful Latino fair last summer. Lot 1, behind the vacant Strand Theater, is not used much. Lot 5 is the commuter lot across from police headquarters.

Lot 10 is between West Fourth and West Fifth streets, just off Park Avenue. Lot 7 has entrances from both Park Avenue and East Seventh Street and has 62 permit spaces with only a few permit holders. Due to vandalism, its nine parking meters are now down to five.

Lot 2 is on West Second Street, between Central and Madison, and Lot 9 is just north of it.
Lot 4 was just cleared of two abandoned buildings and now has more space, but it needs to be paved. It is just south of the main train station.

Last summer Plaintalker checked each lot and found that although most are only a few steps from the central business district, they contain mostly monthly permit spaces and relatively few metered spaces. If they were well-maintained and well-lit and had a modern parking fee system, they might be more attractive to shoppers, diners and people attending events.

The last map of parking lots was made by T&M Associates in 2002 and still includes the temporary parking lot that has now become the site of the Park-Madison office building.

Maybe new Public Works & Urban Development Director David Brown II can take a look at these lots and set something in motion for future upgrades. The parking lots appear to be an under-utilized asset for revenues, but they should still be kept up simply because they are city property like the road system.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not know if it qualifies, but this seems like a good use for the UEZ funds.
Unfortunately for both the roads and the parking lots the type of winter we are coming out of is the worst for their degredation. It is true, however, that lack of maintenance magnifies the problems.

4:22 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

I still say, after the last parking lot report you did: LOT 5 - Something fishy is going on. I believe, and I may be wrong as it has been so long, you listed 15monthly permit spaces being paid for ( seriously Bernice, please refresh my memory )at the time. When I used that lot I sometimes couldn't even find a space to park WITH my monthly permit.
Yes..the parking lots are completely in shambles. What to do....

7:13 AM  
Blogger Bernice said...

To Rob: As of August 2009, 37 permits had been sold. Lot 5 has no metered spaces and 106 permit spaces. I have not asked for an update on monthly permit sales. Maybe it would help if spaces were numbered and correlated with permits. I think employees use that lot as well, but someone who pays for a space should be able to be assured of one.

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I worked for the City I asked NJTRANSIT to rebuild parking lot 5 in 1999/2000 as they were renovating the downtown train station. They agreed to cover the cost if we would set aside 75 spaces for commuter permits with Plainfield keeping these parking fees. The City agreed. If I recall those spaces are painted yellow and are those closest to Watchung with the balance painted white. I believe that there are court and police employees parking there as well. As stated the lot is all permit. There was some past discussion of putting in meters for area shoppers but this never happened.

Pat Fox

11:49 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

Thank you Bernice and Pat Fox. I will say this now more than ever: 75 parking spots for commuters...37 parking permits sold.mmmmmmmmmmmmm
maybe with economy in a downturn there is ample spaces, but I do know it wasn't computerized when I paid for parking. It was a simple journal entry into a book.

6:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some years ago I tried to use Lot 5 but the situation seemed to be that the police department employees always took the "best" spaces - the ones nearest the train station even though I thought they were for commuters. I guess they are unable walk more that a hundred feet or so to get to work.

8:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out what's up with Lot 4 (I thought it was Lot 11): Cleveland and 4th across from the train station.

I have gone to the Parking Bureau on at least two occasions in the past 18 months to try to get parking there. The woman who runs the office questioned me about where I worked and then told me that lot was RESERVED for the people who work at the day care center across the street! I even offered to pay well in advance for space. No go.

I have mentioned this situation to several city council members and all seemed puzzled. One said that sometimes private businesses can contract with the city for parking. My response: 100% of the spaces in a single lot?? Moreover, not all the space had been used on a daily basis - even before the buildings were demolished last month and the lot expanded.

I'd still like to get a spot there. This is at least one opportunity where the city could make a little more money.


And a PS about parking meters: There needs to be attention put to having certain meters designated as "all day" meters in order to allow commuters to have parking in a one-off situation. Ideally, at least designate the ones on West 4th right outside the main train station. They are hardly ever used except at Christmastime when the city puts bags over them and makes them free. Even in the lot next to the Parking Bureau (#10) all meters have a 2-hour limit. This is crazy.

8:23 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home