From the Desk of the Main Street Program Director
Would paid parking system work in Grayling?
by Rae Gosling, Grayling Main Street Program Director
As you may recall, last week I mentioned that I would be traveling for training in the coming week, and was particularly interested in one of the three topics being presented: parking. This week, I am writing to you from said training, hosted by Michigan’s other Main Street coordinating program, Main Street Oakland County. Down here in Pontiac, we have covered the parking session of the line-up. I am pleased to say, I was not disappointed.
The training this week has been divided into three sections, or the Three Ps as they are calling them: Parking, Placemaking, and Preservation.
In the parking portion we heard from three professionals, with different perspectives and roles in the downtown development game. It is important to remember that all of the Oakland County programs are Detroit Metro communities; they deal with larger populations, different traffic patterns, and have more urban needs than we do in Grayling. That being said, each of the three professionals suggested paid parking systems, among other recommendations.
I know, other than events, namely the AuSable River Canoe Marathon, we do not have an honest parking problem, yet. But, as I listened to their presentations, wondering if it had been a waste of our training funds to come down here, each had another common thread: Parking is never, really, free. The lots, street parking, and pedestrian passageways that connect parking to businesses, all have to be maintained In Grayling, the tax-payers are footing the bill for “free” parking right now. There are mechanisms for us to share the bill with the end user, and we should take a look at them. In the coming months I think it would be worth our time, as a downtown, and a municipality, to evaluate a transition to some paid parking in our community.
One of the presenters made a remark that is really resonating with me, a day later; paid parking is not about making money, it is about maneuvering assets and the flow of traffic. The institution of time limits and fees for on street parking will deter people from parking on the street in front of businesses for hours. This will generate turnover in front of businesses, offering more visibility in low periods, and more revenue during peak times.
Another gem from the session was this: No one comes to your community for parking, but they might not come back because of it. This led to a conversation regarding signage, and wayfinding. Last year Grayling Main Street’s Economic Vitality Committee partnered with the city, to commission and install several public parking signs. They are very visible and help visitors find the lots, and know that they are public parking. I mention this, simply to say, good job Grayling. We are clearly invested in making our community more user friendly to visitors.
Bottom line, there is cost associated with transitioning to a parking system, but it is worth it. I am looking forward to working with our board and volunteers, as well as the city to further explore these options and keep growing Grayling.
Next week is Meeting Madness, or at least modified Meeting Madness. This month the meetings were actually split over two weeks, but due to the upcoming holiday we will be shifting a couple meetings up a week. Watch our Facebook page and calendar on the website, for the meeting schedule and reminders. Also, don’t forget to mark your calendars, November 18 is the 40th Annual Christmas Walk in Downtown Grayling!
Want to know more about GMSt and what is going on in Downtown Grayling? Check back in future editions of the Avalanche for more From the Main Street Director’s Desk. You can also check out our website, www.DowntownGrayling.com, find us on Facebook, or email your questions to DowntownGrayling@gmail.com.
Rae Gosling is the Program Director for Grayling Main Street. She has been with GMSt since April 2016. She is a Grayling resident, wife, mother, local shopper, avid supporter of all things Grayling, and keeps everyone on their toes wondering what color her hair will be next.