ALPENA, Mich. — Last week we reported on possible paid parking and received quite a bit of feedback from residents on our Facebook page. We wanted to give the Downtown Development Authority the chance to respond to some of the criticism.
One user posted, “there’s never been a problem parking in Alpena. All the empty store fronts and parking lots, why on earth is there an issue with parking?” DDA Executive Director Anne Gentry responded to this tweet saying, “So if you come here between 9 a.m. and noon, a lot of these lots are full already, a lot of the key spaces are full already because we have close to 800 employees downtown.”
Many of the comments mentioned how the downtown area used to have paid parking, but removed meters after the mall started taking too much business. Gentry says, “We’re at a point right now where people realize the value of our downtown again.” She added, business downtown is rising and parking will only become more of an issue. “Now that we’re seeing more businesses relocate to the downtown, we need to have a strategy to accommodate for cars that come with those.”
The top comment on our post said, “Making people pay to park might not be the best for drawing to the downtown area,” which got 35 likes. Gentry says that paid parking could be necessary to make sure that there is enough parking for customers who would shop there. “We’re not just trying to get more money from people because we can. It’s because that money will go towards improving the experience for visitors, and employees that use our downtown every day.”
The next DDA meeting is on September 3, at 3 p.m. at city hall. Citizens can address the board for five minutes each before the agenda starts.