Last night Saturday we had a warm spell and I decided on my way to Oak Park to stop at the Carribou after noticing a friend's bicycle. There were no parking spaces to be found anywhere downtown. It was packed. I had to park in a lot on the other side of the track, seventy five cents an hour! I had an ephiphany, they are right, this city makes over a million dollars a year just in parking revenue!! There is new construction, new homes, condos, DMC coming why all the crocodile tears? Where does it all go? Pensions, yes but something needs to be done. We do need to fix up the park downtown but what we need most of all is another downtown parking structure. I notice at least three good locations. 1. The parking lot across the track from Hamlins. 2. Even better, the parking lot behind Adriana's and Beirut. 3. The best is one on the Fresard property across from the existing one on Washington if a deal can be worked out with David Griffen, 400 Main LLC, and Emagine Theater Paul Glantz. I left messages for Glantz but could not get a hold of Griffen.
The profit on parking structures is marginal, however the profit on the other end for Emagine, and the present and future businesses near eleven and Main would be significant. Especially if the new hotel, apartments and office proposals by 400 Main goes through. It does not take an accountant to see that downtown Royal Oak is truly a victim of its own success. With a more pro-active DDA and planning commission this is possible. Businesses need to extend their hours a little more, the sidewalks roll up too early with the exception of the bars. This is the most walkable city in Oakland County including Detroit and it could be made even more walkable with a downtown park. One or two additional parking structures would free up some land around city city hall so the park can be expanded. There is also the lot adjacent to Farmers Market and I believe another building on fourth street.
We just have to get over stupid fear of homeless sleeping on benches and molesting passer bys (I read the comments). We are rebooting our police department and for ***#*sake the department is next to the park! In the description of the improvements made to our library a few years ago there is mention of the outside park included as part of the library. It would be a good idea to give over to the library the job of forming a committee along with parks and recreation to immediately improve that area using the new ideas of adopt a park along with a motivated DDA that would like to see more foot traffic downtown all year around.
Collateral benefits of vertical downtown parking and park improvement would be a rise in property values throughout the city over what has already happened. All the progress the city has made so far will have a cap put on it without more vertical parking downtown, with a more walkable attractive downtown park. It does not take a genius to see that what supports a city is an influx of young families and good schools which must be backed by a self supporting downtown.
Jim Rasor's grandiose dream of a greatly enlarged central park will have to be put off for another generation. That is obvious with the problems our present commissioners have in supporting and cooperating with our city's ethics ordinance. We all have to step back a little to see the forest for the trees. For every major improvement there also comes a set back, but those minor set backs can be dealt with now that we have the tax base to do it. We need leadership that realizes that everybody cannot be pleased and is willing to work together when the city's goals are finally prioritized. One issue such as a hotel is not going to solve the problem and unless the leaks are plugged and the course is set the ship will flounder in time. Citizen's can help catalyze our commission by attending more meetings in force. We need to support our outspoken and concerned board members as presently we have too many both elected and appointed who are just paddling their own canoes.