The city’s modified plan for financing additional parking at the Lawrence Public Library is a reasonable compromise that has the people who will benefit most from the parking also paying most of the bill.
Lawrence city commissioners next week will consider approving a plan to add about 70 spaces to the 250-space parking structure that was included in the original library renovation plans. On the theory that downtown property owners would benefit most from the addition of those spaces, the city initially proposed paying for them through assessments in a benefit district that included most of downtown. Property on both sides of Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire streets from Sixth to 11th streets were included in the district, as was all of the city-owned Watson Park.
In the plan city commissioners will consider next Tuesday, the footprint for the benefit district remains the same, but the city has agreed to exempt a number of private residences, churches and other nonprofits that would derive little benefit from the added parking. The city, which already was planning to pay assessments on city-owned property in the benefit district now is proposing that it also pick up assessments for the exempted property, meaning the city will pay about 52 percent of the project’s cost.
The new proposal adds about $146,000 to the city’s cost, but it allocates the overall burden of the benefit district more fairly between taxpayers who will use the parking to access the library, the Outdoor Aquatic Center and other public facilities and businesses that will benefit from increased parking for their customers and employees.
Officials are right that the city shouldn’t miss this opportunity to add some more parking downtown, and the new proposal is a reasonable and fair way to accomplish that goal.