Archive for Monday, July 9, 2012

Lawrence may be asking downtown businesses to pay for library parking garage

July 9, 2012


When it comes to prevailing opinions of Downtown Lawrence property owners there have been two that have stood the test of time: more public parking and fewer property taxes.

Soon, city commissioners may arrange for those two ideas to collide. City Manager David Corliss’ office is proposing that nearly every downtown property owner would pay a special tax to add an extra level and about 75 additional parking spaces for a public parking garage that will be built next the Lawrence Public Library.

“We get very few opportunities to add a significant number of parking spaces downtown,” Corliss said. “We do it about once a decade. It seems to me that now is the time to ask the question of whether we want to add more parking spaces.”

The next question, though, may be tougher: Who ought to pay for the $1.2 million project?

Corliss is proposing that downtown property owners would pay a special assessment on their property taxes — for up to 10 years — to pay for the additional parking. That’s the part of the plan downtown property owners will have to do some thinking about.

“Does more parking hold appeal? No doubt,” said Mark Swanson, a property owner who runs Hobbs and Spectators in Downtown Lawrence. “Does another bang on property taxes hold any appeal? No, but I understand somebody has to pay for it. It is a tough one. I’m scratching my head on this one.”

As estimated by the city, property owners along much of Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and parts of Kentucky streets would pay 47 cents for every square foot of land they own in the downtown district. For a typical 25-foot-wide retail lot on Massachusetts Street, that would amount to about $140 a year for 10 years.

Mayor Bob Schumm — who owns downtown property and a operates a restaurant in downtown — supports the proposal.

“I’m at all times in favor of finding more parking for downtown,” Schumm said. “On the north end of downtown we are particularly short of parking. It will be about $12 a month for most property owners. If it creates more opportunity for your commercial district, that’s a pretty good bang for your buck.”

City Commissioner Mike Amyx, who owns property and operates a barber shop in downtown, said property owners will have to make a decision about how much they’ll benefit from the new garage.

“A whole lot of us are going to have to make a decision about whether it is a reasonable investment to make,” Amyx said. “In today’s time, everybody is trying to make sure they understand where every dime goes. Nobody wants to see a tax increase of any kind.”

Downtown property owners do have the option to file a protest petition to stop the special assessment. To do so, more than half the district will have to object to the proposal.

Some downtown property owners aren’t sure how much they’ll benefit from a new parking garage that will be located between the Lawrence Public Library and the Douglas County Senior Services building in the 700 block of Vermont Street.

“It is not going to help the customer parking issue,” said Rod Ernst, who owns several downtown buildings and operates Ernst & Son Hardware in downtown. “Customers want to park at your front door.”

But Schumm said he thinks the new parking garage will be an attractive place downtown employees to park, which will free up more spaces closer to Massachusetts Street. Plus, he said during the summer parking for the swimming pool often spills into spaces that really ought to be utilized by shoppers.

As proposed, the city has enough money to build about a 250-space parking garage at the same time it expands the Lawrence Public Library. The city included funding for the garage in the $18 million bond issue approved by voters. The additional $1.2 million that would be funded by the downtown tax would pay to add another level to the garage, which would bring the total spaces up to about 325.

Commissioners will discuss the parking garage issue at a budget study session at 4 p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall. City officials hope to begin construction work on the library and parking garage this fall.


ksrover 5 years, 10 months ago

Look at the parking at the riverfront. It's rarely ever filled. Granted, the library is closer to the center of downtown, but I have to agree with Ernst on this one.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 10 months ago

But Schumm said he thinks the new parking garage will be an attractive place downtown employees to park, which will free up more spaces closer to Massachusetts Street. Plus, he said during the summer parking for the swimming pool often spills into spaces that really ought to be utilized by shoppers. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ What a goon. Employees will park where ever they want to. If Schumm wants to do something, why doesn't he wipe the grease off of his tables and chairs.

deec 5 years, 10 months ago

Stop giving away public parking spaces and lots to developers. Problem solved for zero cost.

irvan moore 5 years, 10 months ago

the numbers that corliss is using sure don't look like the downtown business owners are going to be paying for those spaces, taxpayers please bend over again

pizzapete 5 years, 10 months ago

Once this parking garage is built I fully expect someone to propose putting in a highrise apartment building next to it. Tthe developer instead of building their own garage will save millions by renting half the spaces for the tenents. I'd also expect the city to pay for a study that tells us it isn't feasible for the developer to build the apartment unless the building is at least 10 stories, they get property tax breaks, a special tax district, and they're allowed to rent the new garage at bargain basement prices.

lunacydetector 5 years, 10 months ago

this will clearly benefit schumm, but amyx - forget it. let schumm and his buddies (nearby property owners) pay for the garage.

Steve Jacob 5 years, 10 months ago

Anyone notice the Borders parking lot is full every day? I like the tax downtown, I don't go downtown (much), so I will not have to play for it. You watch, downtown will become a special tax district too.

classclown 5 years, 10 months ago

I wonder if more parking spaces downtown will result in more people driving downtown rather than taking a bus or riding a bike since there will be more places to park.

pinecreek 5 years, 10 months ago

Taking a bus? Nobody rides the T.
Cancel the T, parking paid for and another million or two left in the bank.

Carol Bowen 5 years, 10 months ago

Your news is outdated. Buses are crowded.

Jennifer Alexander 5 years, 10 months ago

Forgive me if I don't understand, but didn't the money that was allotted for the new library INCLUDE a parking garage for it?

MarcoPogo 5 years, 10 months ago

Yes, but now they got the hankerin' for one more level in the garage that wasn't in the original budget.

somedude20 5 years, 10 months ago

Ever watch someone drive around a parking lot for 5 minutes just to find a closer spot? Ever watch that person get out of the car and notice that more often than not they are extremely unfit? People could benefit from walking...... obesity is the leading cause of preventable death

It would do us ALL well to walk, get out, strech your legs.

somedude20 5 years, 10 months ago

I hear ya. I always walk downtown. 1.5 miles down, 1.5 back so it is a nice way to offest sitting in an office all day

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 10 months ago

Given the life expectancy of the average downtown business, I see no reason why adding a few more costs to their overhead each month would be a problem.

Topple 5 years, 10 months ago

Mass street markup = why I don't buy anything on Mass.

Centerville 5 years, 10 months ago

We passed a bond issue. That should cap it. If they need more money, double the meter fees on the 325 spaces. Cost users should be cost payers...even if it's just this once.

Carol Bowen 5 years, 10 months ago

Many of the downtown businesses run on a shoe string. Yet, they bring individuality and interest to our community. If there is a tax, it should be community-wide. However, we have to prioritize. We're talking about taxes for lots of things.

We talk about parking for the downtown, the library, and the swimming pool. I think the shoppers are incidental to this lot.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 10 months ago

$12 here, $21 there , another $17 here plus water rate increase, trash rate increase, sewer rate increase,USD 497 increase, county increases sooner or later our tax increases begin to add up....

What about all those increases over the past 25 years?

The additional parking at the library was not part of the plan. Forget it. While I'm at it let's rescind the new library tax and pay for it this way:

Comment to the Lawrence City Commission on 7/06/10

Yes the city should always maintain its existing resources such as streets,sidewalks and the wonderful resource known as the public library. Let’s allow the taxpayers to decide.

However I would like to introduce a fiscally responsible taxpayer friendly proposal. Options the city can live with that include no increase in taxes.

The one cent sales tax that was approved in 1995 can generate up to $14,036,301 as of 2009. Obviously more in better years

The city portion of the county 1% sales tax can generate up $8,609,331 as of 2009 obviously more in better years.

The two together = $22,645,672 again obviously more in better years.

So I say let’s use a portion of this to finance our library reconstruction. Let’s use the number 10% of this tax dollar revenue annually.

Choice: A. City/County tax revenue combined using 10% annually = 2,264,567. 20 for 10 years = project paid off with existing sales tax revenue

B.City sales tax only using 10% annually of city tax revenue only = $1,403,630.10 for 15 years with existing sales tax revenue

Furthermore just dedicate this 10% to the library forever which still leaves 90% of the sales tax for other uses.

The LJW declared this concept a lost opportunity.

If downtown employees would not use "nearby" commercial public parking perhaps this would not be a problem. At least one or two business owners ask their employees not to park in nearby parking. It is best for employees to leave more available "nearby" parking for customers.

Carol Bowen 5 years, 10 months ago

And rescind the sales tax that has no sunset.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.