To the editor:
I was stunned to read in Wednesday’s paper that the city is considering spending $1 million, including $325,000 in public funds, on 72 new parking spaces downtown. I go to downtown Lawrence for most of my shopping and entertainment. I have never had trouble finding a parking spot, even at the busiest times of the week.
Tellingly, the article was situated right above a blurb that Kansas obesity rates may double in the next 20 years. A million dollars could greatly improve access to downtown via public transportation or walking and bike paths from other parts of the city. These alternate methods of transportation would be far more supportive of residents’ physical health than further encouraging reliance on automobiles, would entice more people to go downtown more frequently and would reduce carbon emissions.
Some business owners in the downtown area worry that they will lose business if potential customers cannot find parking nearby. They are vastly underestimating the value of a downtown location. People don’t patronize a downtown business because they want to drive up, make their purchase and be on their way. We go because we like the downtown atmosphere, like walking around, doing some shopping and stopping for a meal or a coffee. If your business does not benefit from this kind of foot traffic, you might want to consider relocating to a strip mall. It would probably save you a bundle and it seems like there are plenty of those locations available.