Kristi Stokes: Parking program aimed at avoiding congestion downtown
Quick. What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Duluth's downtown? The Greater Downtown Council has conducted random surveys of area residents over the last few years and the NO. 1 top-of-mind thought about the downtown consist...
Quick. What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Duluth's downtown?
The Greater Downtown Council has conducted random surveys of area residents over the last few years and the NO. 1 top-of-mind thought about the downtown consistently has been the variety of restaurants and good food. After all, we have 54 restaurants nestled within our downtown/waterfront boundaries providing a tremendous variety of good cuisine.
That's the good news.
Coming in as the second item that comes to mind when people think about the downtown: parking. And, more specifically, there is a concern over the lack of parking (real or perceived) in our central business district.
That's the bad news, but the same news that plagues many downtowns across the country.
In speaking to a counterpart in another city, her first remark was: "I'll be even more concerned when there isn't a discussion about parking in our downtown. Because that may mean we're losing customers, visitors, employees and residents."
Nonetheless, we are playing a role in trying to assist the public in finding a place to park when they visit the heart of our fine city.
Several years ago, we worked with the city of Duluth to implement a wayfinding system that would better direct motorists to public parking in the downtown. This proved to be beneficial as there were perceptions to some in our community that a few public ramps were only for private parking. It also better directs first-time visitors to the ample longer-term options for parking.
In addition, we are working on a renewed effort to get the word out about our Park Plus parking program. Thanks to an ongoing partnership between the GDC, ramp owners, city of Duluth, Duluth Transit Authority and participating businesses, we have been able to offer a program that helps ease on-street parking congestion. The Park Plus program has been in effect since 1988 and, since that time, more than 2 million Park Plus coupons have been redeemed by motorists or transit customers who have conducted business in the downtown.
So, next time you are shopping, dining, playing or visiting your favorite service provider, try pulling into a nearby ramp. Eight ramps throughout the downtown accept the Park Plus coupons and they can accommodate extended visits during the day. When you conduct business at your favorite location, ask them for the Park Plus coupon to cover the cost of your parking. Many businesses participate in the program, and if your favorite business does not, please encourage them to offer this customer-friendly benefit administered by the GDC. The DTA also accepts these coupons for regular route service.
It's just one more alternative to circling the block for a meter to plug. It's an alternative worth exploring because it also saves you time and money.
Kristi Stokes is the president of the Greater Downtown Council in Duluth. Contact her at 727-8549 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .