The buck has been passed once again on downtown parking problems.
After spending $9,500 for a relatively unenlightening study of downtown parking needs, the Lawrence City Commission has decided not to spend another $12,900 with the same firm to come up with possible solutions. Instead, the commission has asked Downtown Lawrence Inc. to consider ways to adjust the city's current parking facilities.
The obvious question, of course, is why didn't someone think of turning the issue over to DLI in the first place?
The consultant's study determined there is a surplus of 600 parking places downtown, but a localized shortage of 149 spaces at the north end of Massachusetts. Most casual observers probably could have arrived at much the same general conclusion.
The firm then suggested some possible approaches to the problem: studying police enforcement strategies, starting a retail parking validation program and interviewing downtown business representatives.
The upshot of the study was to basically leave the city back at square one when it comes to parking problems. For years, downtown merchants and city officials have looked for answers for parking. They've pleaded with people who work in downtown not to take up prime parking spots, they've looked at ways to beef up enforcement, but the problems remain.
The city commission has taken the right action by turning the issue over to DLI. There's no reason to spend any more money on consultants. Now it is up to DLI to either come up with some reasonable and relatively inexpensive solutions, or to start a campaign to convince their patrons two or three blocks isn't too far to walk to get to their places of business.