February 23, 2006

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Concord Publisher's Note: Put parking to rest
By Dan Szczesny

It’s not a sexy issue, but it certainly appears to be on the minds of pretty much every business owner on south

Main Street parking.

The construction of Capital Commons has made parking an issue that the city can no longer ignore. Fortunately the city seems to be responding, though for some the response has taken far too long.

A coalition of area business owners, including Michael Herrmann from Gibson’s Bookstore, Bruce Parrish from Hermanos and Dawn Whiting from Pachamama, have been beating the drum lately as construction of the commons has created parking havoc around their respective businesses. About 100 spaces have been lost in the area, and business owners’ pleas for relief have been growing louder every week.

Next Monday, the City Council will hold an open forum to discuss ways to alleviate some of the strain during the year and a half of construction.

Already, at a January meeting, councilors discussed adding 15-20 spots in a variety of ways, including converting some parallel parking to angled parking and changing some streets to one-way in order to add new parking.

Ultimately, this would be a temporary fix. Once the new development is up, the old spaces will return and new spaces will be added.

Some business owners are optimistic. Herrmann, for example, said he understands that some spaces will have to be lost during construction, but the fact that the city is at least attempting to do something is a step in the right direction. Already, the return of three spots in front of Herrmann’s store has helped him reclaim some business.

It took the city a while to start taking seriously the complaints of South Main Street business owners. Still, better late than never. Clearly, Capital Commons will be a positive development that will enhance the quality of life in Concord. Given the size of the project and all the starts and stalls that had to be endured in order to finally get construction moving, it’s clear why the city temporarily lost track of some details, like parking.

This Monday’s meeting, though, is crucial. Yes, there have been meetings in the past. And yes, some business owners were unhappy then and will be unhappy now with the city’s reaction. But, the outcry now is different, and louder, then it was last spring. A strong turnout Monday should be the key to getting some relief and putting this controversy in the past. The public hearing will be held Monday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. at the City Council chambers at 41 Green Street.

Ordways for sale
Last week, I wrote about the loss of Ordways to a fire last December. Well, I’m sad to report that everyone’s favorite south Concord deli is now for sale. There’s no word yet on any new potential owners, but let’s hope whoever picks up the neighborhood institution once famous for its sandwiches is able to maintain a similar market in the spirit of a community gathering spot. .

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