MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

December 7, 2013

City should take steps to solve parking


— It’s not quite paving paradise to put up a parking lot, but when the city built a parking lot near the VA Call Center, it was expected to be a paradise of solved parking problems.

But the 318-space parking lot has not solved congestion caused by cars parked on some of the nearby streets.

It costs $1 per day to park in the lot.

The parking lot, which lies within an area bounded by North F and G streets and East Broadway and Callahan Street, cost about $557,000 to build. At a dollar a day, officials project those costs could be recouped in about 10 1/2 years if it is used at full capacity.

“We are trying to get people off the streets and into the parking lot,” Public Works Director Mike Stewart told the Phoenix. “We want to do that without hurting anybody’s feelings or posting those streets as no-parking zones.”

The lot was built to alleviate a problem. It is extremely difficult for emergency personnel to drive on these roads because VA Call Center employees parked on both sides of the streets.

If one of those houses are on fire, a firetruck would have a difficult time fitting with cars parked on both sides. If someone has an accident, an ambulance also would have a hard time.

We understand VA Call Center employees not wanting to pay $1 per day to park there, and we don’t fault them for not parking there. They are not breaking any laws. The city allows for parking on the streets.

That’s why we believe the city should do whatever it needs to do to get people to park in the lot.

Stewart proposed a plan during a recent City Council meeting make one side of the road a no-parking zone. Once those areas have been posted, Stewart proposed police patrols to monitor street parking. If congestion remains a problem, Stewart suggested violators be issued warning tickets, and VA administrators encourage use of the parking lot through internal memorandums. If problems persist, Stewart said the next step would be to issue citations for parking violations. A ban of on-street parking in the area also could be considered as part of a solution.

Stewart’s proposals are sound, and we agree with them. It is a reasonable approach to what could be a life-or-death problem.