Letters to the editor
Posted: February 23, 2013
Yes, but . . .
I never thought I’d find myself encouraging an editor to write more, but your lead editorial Feb. 21 was at least a paragraph short.
The Star has made it painfully evident that it would prefer that patrons of Old Town not shell out money to do business in our city. We would love to make that happen. The question remains: How?
First, let’s get past the notion that parking, anywhere, is free. Someone owns it, paves it, paints it, monitors it, sweeps it, plows it.
Do us the favor of doing a little in-house evaluation. Go ask [Winchester Star Publisher Thomas T. Byrd] what it would take to buy the parking area used by your employees. (I’m pretty sure we can find you a buyer who would like to build an office within a block of a municipal garage.)
Take that number and do a time value of money evaluation with whatever capitalization rate you think is appropriate. That will tell you how much Mr. Byrd is foregoing each year to provide you with his parking resource. He is giving up that cash and maintaining that lot so that you can park “Free.”
Since the ’70s, the city has worked several variations of subsidies to make parking available and affordable. That philosophy has changed and the Parking Authority exists to deal with the very limited and specific task of managing parking resources. Council has asked that we operate with a consistent and comprehensive plan to maximize the effectiveness of all of the city’s parking resources.
The meeting Tuesday was not just to discuss the two ordinance changes. We wanted to make sure we are all still on the same page. Council restated their position that the Parking Authority do what it can to be fiscally independent.
They have other, more pressing priorities for our tax dollars. I’m OK with that. That’s why they were elected. We understand each other. The two entities are working toward a common goal. The paths are not always easy ones to follow.
So, Mr. Editor, instead of pointing one more time at one of the facets of our parking assets you see as a problem, why not write the next paragraph where you propose a practical and fiscally responsible solution? Better yet, we have a vacancy on the Authority; we’d love to have you work to improve the situation from the inside.
See you at our meeting Thursday, 7:30 a.m., in City Hall? We’ll have you back at your typewriter by 9 when the meters go active.
Richard S. Helm
Winchester Parking Authority
A disincentive . . .
This letter is in reference to the article — “Patrol times, some parking costs may increase in the city” — that appeared on Feb. 19.
According to recent articles in The Star, downtown merchants, particularly those whose businesses are located on the Old Town Mall, are almost desperate for customers, especially during the major infrastructure update project.
Meanwhile, the referenced article indicates that the Winchester Parking Authority is proposing to the City Council a plan that would allow a significant increase in the cost of parking in the most desirable downtown parking spaces.
Why can’t I help but think that the proposed increase in parking rates would only serve to discourage even more people from shopping and dining downtown and thereby pose an even greater threat to the long-term success of downtown merchants?
Further, have the members of the Parking Authority and City Council noticed the significant refurbishment work taking place at Apple Blossom Mall? Upon completion, that project will encourage even more people to patronize the businesses at a mall that offers acres of free parking.