A parking consultant says that downtown Lawrence has plenty of parking, but it's up to the Lawrence City Commission to decide how far people are willing to walk between their parked cars and shops.
Larry W. Hofmockel and Ronald J. Lange, who prepared the study for Walker Parking Consultants-Engineers Inc. of Aurora, Colo., said a ``localized shortage'' of spaces at the north end of Massachusetts Street may have given people the impression that downtown had an overall parking problem.
``Assuming people are willing to walk two or three blocks to their destination, then there is not a shortage of parking,'' the study said. ``On the other hand, if a very short walking distance is important, the city may want to consider providing additional parking near the north end of Massachusetts Street.''
The commission will receive the report at its next meeting, which gets under way at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday in the commission meeting room at city hall, Sixth and Massachusetts.
DURING THE peak hour of a typical day, the report said, motorists can expect vacancies in about 600 of downtown's 3,587 available spaces in a 20-block area.
``Currently, the parking in downtown Lawrence is more than sufficient to satisfy the existing overall parking demand,'' the report said. ``It is evident . . . that parkers do not have much trouble finding a desirable parking space.''
But that doesn't necessarily mean there isn't a problem, Mayor Bob Schulte said this morning.
``People in Lawrence are pretty used to to parking close to where they want to go if you have to park a block away, you might say that's a parking problem, when in reality that's a perceived problem,'' Schulte said. ``We have a problem because people see it as a problem.''
COMMISSIONER Bob Schumm said he hadn't studied the report, but realized that downtown had problems during peak periods, such as the holiday season.
``Possibly we could alleviate that through better management,'' Schumm said.
The study, conducted during five days in May, June and September, examined a 20-block area of downtown, between Kentucky and Rhode Island streets and between Sixth and 11th streets.
The area was separated into six study zones. Only one the four blocks on the north end of downtown in an area bounded by Massachusetts, Kentucky, Sixth and Eighth streets currently has a shortage of spaces, mostly along Massachusetts.
Assuming that people can comfortably walk two blocks to their destinations, the report said, the zone is 86 spaces short. Adding 250 to 300 spaces in the area ``should be adequate'' for ``a very short'' walking distance, the report said.
Overall, the blocks fronting Massachusetts Street between Sixth and 11th Streets are 432 spaces short for current needs, the study also said.