If You Hate Paradise, Put Up A Parking Lot

The City of Newark (Ohio) is in the process of demolishing the property purchased from Manuel Vela at 20-22 N. Fourth Street (directly north of the city’s Municipal Building). OK, OK, Mr. Vela didn’t receive any funds from the sale though the city did “buy” Mr. Vela’s toxic asset — his responsibility to deal with the liability of the structure at that address. Kinda like the Kroger purchase receipt, only it says Mr. Vela, you saved the demolition costs plus improvement costs by shopping with us (allowing the city and state of Ohio to do it for you). The city has designs on a new parking lot at 20-22 N. Fourth St, an automobile destination, you might say. The city Municipal Building will now adjoin an automobile destination on its north, east and southwest side, as well as directly underneath the building (3D thinking at its finest). Remember the old Sohio station (sigh) which also turned into a parking lot when eliminated? It surprised everyone then. It doesn’t surprise anyone today. We’ve taken it to be “all natural” (as Newman’s Own would say).

“American cities are haunted by too many parking spaces” by Caroline Winter for Bloomberg Businessweek (4-2-14) “Planning choices made in the heyday of car ownership may prove incompatible with a rising generation of consumers who seem remarkably disinterested in driving.” “In the ’50s and ’60s, cities did things like subsidize garage parking, and they condemned buildings so the lots could be used for parking,” says Norman Garrick, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Connecticut.” “A pair of forthcoming studies by Garrick and several of his UConn colleagues examine the economic and sociological impacts of parking trends in six U.S. cities from 1960 to 2000. They conclude that some car-centric cities forfeit more than a thousand dollars per parking space per year in potential municipal revenues by using land for parking rather than more lucrative alternatives.” “Garrick isn’t sure how the cities settled on their different policies, but he says overemphasis on parking growth led to a decline in physical appeal. “When I came to Hartford 30 years ago, it was a much more attractive place,” he says. “You want cities where people are on the streets, where there are things to do, places to go. You don’t want a city that is a big office park.”” Newark and Licking County seem to favor the “big office park” aesthetic. Analysis finds (and has found in previous posts) the valorization (near idolization) of office parks and industrial parks as things of beauty, all in the name of economy and growth. (Webster’s gives the definition of valorize as “to maintain the value or price of (a commodity), esp. by subsidies or the government’s purchase at a fixed price”). Fixed indeed! The article concludes with “He also recommends improving public transportation and installing bike lanes. Cars, he points out, take up more space than any other mode of transportation. “For each person, a car takes up 10 times more space than a bike, 15 times more than a train, and 30 times more than a pedestrian,” Garrick writes via e-mail. “Space equals money in one way or the other.”” (It should be noted that just north of Connecticut is the land that gave birth to the roundabout)

The 4-4-14 online Newark Advocate runs another roundabout story, “Streetscape proposal includes four roundabouts for Courthouse Square” by Hannah Sparling. A video offering headlines “Officials recommend roundabout for courthouse square”. Analysis found that to sound pretty official. ““What we want is a destination,” he [Newark Mayor Jeff Hall] said. “Why does Easton (Town Center) succeed? Because it’s a destination.”

Analysis found it ironic that the 4-5-14 online Newark Advocate ran an Emily Maddern story entitled “County conservation district looking for a sustainable future”. It touts the need and importance of green space, community gardens and sustainable agriculture. Had Emily’s and Hannah’s reports appeared on the same day, the lack of imagination within the Newark City administration would immediately have become glaringly apparent. Maddern’s article has “The conservation [Licking County Soil and Water Conservation District] tour started and ended at the Sparta restaurant in downtown Newark, whose owner, Chris Ramsey, created Project Main Street.” At one time Mr. Ramsey projected just such a green space alongside his restaurant (with community garden, greenhouse, solar collectors). With its southern exposure and alley access, 20-22 N. Fourth St. would be perfect for that. The Sparta is next door neighbors with the Municipal Building. Don’t they ever talk, or visit? (What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate — more of Newman’s own, but from a movie this time). Anyone who has visited Boston knows that a roundabout is not very pedestrian welcoming (or friendly). Indeed, Lifeflight may need to be called out to pluck the stranded pedestrian from the “no man’s” island (maybe Newark’s islands could have public bronze sculptures of the SS Minnow, or tribal gatherings of The Survivor?). Roundabouts are designed for unimpeded traffic flow. Should a car stop within the circular flow – everyone stops (visit Boston during rush hour to see primo gridlock in non-action). Analysis imagines the “destination” scenario of a night on the town: Ooh, found excellent parking on N. Second (just off the square), heading to The Grill for dinner (darn, forgot enough cash, need to go to the Chase ATM), back to the Grill, how ‘bout drinks on the patio at the Buckeye Winery before the show? Then to the Midland for the show, and back across Second after the great performance to the conveniently parked car (what a night!). 6 pedestrian crossings of the projected roundabouts where today there is a crossing with a light (all at a particularly heavy auto traffic time). Analysis finds the “official recommendation” complies perfectly with the conservative “See the USA in your Chevrolet” mentality from the 1950’s; of the automobile’s priority over pedestrian, bicycle or public transportation. The aesthetic is definitely that of the office/industrial park. Why? Because it’s an automobile destination! (Oh, that’s so yesterday)

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