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MAR 24 - MAR 31, 2015

NT Forgot to Plan for Parking and Overnight Accommodations

By Sweeney Payne

March 24, 2015

64-66 Webster: Once known as the Dick Block Building, it was, built in 1891. In 1921, it housed the G. C. Murphy 5 to 50 cent store, Dick Block, and George J. Smith. In 1936, the building was vacant. By 1946, it housed Witkop & Holmes and was known as the Witkop & Holmes building for the furniture store it housed for decades. It now houses Teddy Bear Carpet & Linoleum and Teddy Bear Fabrics.
Will it be a boutique hotel?

Webster Street for many years had many empty parking spots. The Manhattan Street parking lot was a deserted wasteland.

NT's "revitalized" downtown, with new businesses drawing the art-music-history segment, a rejuvenated theatre, a small collection of providers of eclectic goods-services, newer bars-dining establishments (as well as two along the Canal) which draw better-heeled-than-most-NT-residents diners and drinkers downtown, leaves parking at a premium much of the time, non-existent at others.

During events, parts of blocks or entire blocks are often closed to parking and traffic. An over-emphasis on concerts and other events, annual Canal Fests and merchant's attempts at increasing December sales with Winter Walks, brings in more people than limited parking can handle.

Older residents and visitors, those with disabilities, others not wishing to have to invest serious time in finding a parking space or having to walk very far, simply decide to remain home or shop elsewhere because they cannot find a place to park within a convenient distance.

Suggestions for Lumber City Development and our City officials:

Why not convert vacant lots at the north end of Webster where it connects with Main and a small area across the street north of the small plaza into a municipal parking lot?

Why not turn the former CarQuest property into an expanded municipal parking lot, with the building converted into a visitors-event center?

Why not convert Prison's property into a parking ramp with attendants collecting parking fees, collecting docking fees and containing a visitors center at Pirson's?

Why not convert property at the southeast corner of Webster-Tremont into parking? Why not rent the large usually totally empty doctor's office private parking lot onthe northeast corner of Webster-Tremont?

A serious number of parking spots were lost, without our being informed it was to happen, when LCDC helped Kissling Interests with taxpayer funded grants, loans and 15 years of tax credits. That took away parking spots we had enjoyed across the street from the Remington-Rand plant for decades. The lot belonged with the building.

Why did Kissling also get the use of the small parking lot on the southeast side of Oliver-Tremont in which we used to be able to park? Kissling also has use of a parking lot where the Elks Lodge was. Dockside Bar & Grill began with no parking area at all and now has substantial parking on Sweeney. Residents and visitors who used to be able to park on Sweeney when attending downtown events and functions can no longer do so.

Sweeney was altered between Webster and Main to create concrete Gateway Park, losing some of the parking we used to have there. That limited parking space is totallyeliminated during Canal Fest and other events.

Residents lost a pleasant grassy park in the downtown area where many residents went to fish for generations and were given a cold concrete "park" meant to bring inevent patrons and a couple hundred boaters a year more than to serve actual residents.

Why weren't replacing lost parking for residents and our tranquil park on the Canal downtown part of the City's plans? Our tax dollars were/are used to benefit wealthydevelopers and property owners and we have been short- changed on quality of life.

NT has no quality overnight accommodations for visitors. Keeping them overnight or for weekends or longer would be more productive than sending them to Amherst orother suburban areas for lodging.

Can NT make arrangements with the owners of Gateway Center to convert some of their units into overnight accommodations? Family members and friends coming to visitresidents have to stay in another community. Why are the needs of residents given last place to the needs of event visitors?

A boutique hotel is a small hotel in a unique setting with upscale accommodations. We were told we would get one in the Teddy Bear Carpet building since Burgio wasMayor.

Why didn't we get the boutique hotel while focusing on creating the unique setting?

The boutique hotel plans were eliminated when LCDC arranged for Burgio's purchase of the building after having required one to be part of plans for that building for adecade. Instead, Burgio was assisted by the LCDC and Historic Preservation Commission, both of which he created as Mayor, and we get no boutique hotel. Burgio iscreating another "bar and eatery" as signs indicate, to be operated by our newly APPOINTED alderwoman at large Catherine Schwandt, as he did with Crazy Jake's.

By the way, is that building still owned by Burgio and company under his 26 Webster LLC, which is still active? How many loans, grants and tax concessions did we pay for to enable him to create both?





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