Tuesday, November 11, 2008
With the recent opening of the Goodwill Lodge Tavern and electronics firm Sagetech Corp., the prognosis for finding parking in downtown White Salmon is not especially good.
Local residents have gotten used to being able to easily find downtown parking, but those days might be gone.
Sagetech -- which is going in where the Elkhorn Tavern used to be -- is expected to employ about 30-35 workers. If even half of them drive to work, the demand for parking places is likely to outstrip availability.
To address local parking issues, White Salmon Public Safety Director Rich Cortese has formed a committee to develop ideas for the downtown area.
"The first goal is to try to figure out where long-term parking could go," Cortese said. "We've looked in to park and rides, and possibly do some carpooling. There are a couple vacant lots around."
The city provides one public parking lot in the business district. It is located just west of White Salmon City Hall, and offers about 20 parking spaces. There is no charge to park there.
Cortese said the five-member downtown parking committee will be checking to see if any of the nearby churches or businesses might be willing to allow people to park in their lots during times when their facilities are not being used.
"We agreed on going out and looking for places that could be available for long term parking," Cortese explained.
According to Cortese, the parking situation is not yet critical -- but it might be headed there.
"It's not so much a problem now, but a lot more cars are parking downtown, that's for sure," he said. "It's kind of a surprise, because the streets had been bare for awhile."
One key issue facing downtown businesses is when employees or business owners themselves park on the street.
"We don't know how many business people park there, but they need to leave those spaces so they're available for the public," Cortese said. "I hope the owners will regulate this themselves."
Legally, employees of downtown merchants should not be parking on the street, because most of the business district along Jewett Boulevard has two-hour limits on parking spaces. And as competition for parking increases, the local Police Department may have to work overtime to enforce those time limits.
Cortese added that he wants to see the parking zones dealt with more strictly.
"Definitely, those are going to have to begin to be enforced, and we need some new signs to go up," Cortese explained. "We've kind of let this go for awhile."