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Archive for Thursday, October 15, 1998

BOARD MULLS FINANCE PLAN FOR PARKING

October 15, 1998

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Adding pavement, curbs, gutters, landscaping and lights to a downtown parking lot is a $267,000 job, and now it's time to figure out how to pay for it.

Eliminating 34 parking spaces from a downtown parking lot will cost the city more than $250,000, and it's up to the city's Downtown Advisory Board to recommend who should pick up the tab.

Wednesday morning, board members kicked around ideas for financing the estimated $266,995 reconstruction of a 142-space city parking lot along the east side of New Hampshire Street, midway between Eighth and Ninth streets.

By dropping its capacity to 108 vehicles, the gravel lot would get new pavement, curbs, gutters, landscaping and lights -- all changes intended to convince downtown employees to park off Massachusetts Street, and in turn open up more prime spaces for downtown shoppers and visitors.

As noted in Wednesday's discussions, the city likely will pay for half of the upgrade work, but the rest remains unclear. Board members asked city staffers to draw up a variety of possible scenarios for splitting up an estimated $150,000 worth of project costs.

One plan would charge ``special assessments'' only to properties in the same block as the lot, plus those along the west side of New Hampshire, between Eighth and Ninth. Another would charge properties as far away as the west side of Massachusetts, plus a half-block south of Ninth and a half-block north of Eighth.

``I don't think that's too far away at all,'' said Deb Brewer, a member of the board.

Board members will wait until later this month to review the scenarios, but they did agree on one thing: Owners of residential properties along the east side of Rhode Island should not be charged special assessments.

City Manager Mike Wildgen went even further, saying that properties south of Ninth Street also should be left out, given the presence of residential properties.

``There's no reason to spend energy on that,'' Wildgen said. ``We're just picking a fight that's a guaranteed loser.''

Once determined, the board plans to pass along its recommendations to Lawrence city commissioners, who would make the final decisions regarding the project.

-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is mfagan@ljworld.com.

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