Last week I listened to a recording of an interview that Mayor Stothert did with KFAB radio here in Omaha in which she reviewed her tenure as mayor and touched on her future plans for the city. One of the topics mentioned for the future was the development for Lot B near the Centurylink Center.
During that discussion the mayor noted that a large portion of parking downtown is unused for most of the day. She went on to say that Lot B was prime property for development and should be utilized more along the lines as mixed use. My initial thought was “My god! She’s finally getting it!” That sentiment lasted all of three seconds as she followed with a statement that those 850 parking spaces would have to be moved elsewhere.
Now I’m just a lowly accountant/consultant, but if they’re largely unused now, won’t that still be the case if you pave over another plot of land to put them elsewhere? And, if I heard correctly, the area she wants to move them to is closer to the river which also seems to me (the lowly accountant/consultant) prime real estate for a park or other public development.
Unfortunately, this is just a continuation of the car-centric thinking that pervades almost all of American society. There is an innate belief that if you own a fuel burning vehicle, you have the right to subsidized parking close to whatever destination you wish to choose. Wouldn’t it make more sense to find ways to provide MORE than adequate transportation to desired destinations other than hopping in your car? Instead, we add to an infrastructure burden that we already are unable to maintain. Personally, I’d much rather see the water infrastructure fixed (over a dozen main breaks in the last month) than widen 168th street. Sure, I know that the money for the roads will largely be coming from the state and federal governments, but that only shows that the mind shift needs to come from levels higher that City of Omaha government. But the shift has to start somewhere.
So let’s start by NOT moving those parking spaces, but eliminating them. Provide alternative transportation to those events that MECA makes their money on (sure would be nice to see their books.) If we want Omaha to be a city for the future, we need to start taking the future into consideration. Right now, I’m not seeing it.