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September 18th, 2019

 

The Montpelier Public Parking and Hotel

To the Editor,

Have you ever been downtown and seen State Street with no cars on it? We have a beautiful and quaint downtown that tourists from all over this country and the world readily relay to us as they order a cup of tea or a glass of wine or have their computer looked at.

Now imagine that many of our residents had a way to get downtown without driving and all of the cars driven by tourists and other visitors in our downtown are tucked away in a single structure, not taking away from the image of our beautiful city. This is a dream that I have… cars are not beautiful, cars should be hidden.

I was disheartened today when I read another article saying the that current appeal by 18 (or so) people has the ability to kill the public parking and hotel project that so many of our local businesses have stated over and over is critical to the success of our downtown commerce. In our small café, we hear over and over from tourists who are leaving our city to go to Waterbury or Berlin or even Burlington to stay at a hotel that has a loyalty program.

They love Montpelier, they just can’t stay here.

Think of the dinner, breakfast and shopping that is NOT happening because they take their travel needs (and dollars) to a neighboring town.

We also hear endless complaints from Vermonters about the parking situation in town… no public parking, not enough metered parking, limitations of 2 hours that make longer meetings impossible, high ticket fees… Montpelier seems very unfriendly to people who don’t know the neighborhoods that they can park in or don’t have the privilege of living close enough to our city to walk or ride a bike into town. People would like to have business meetings here… they just can’t rely upon a place for all the attendees to park. This is a real problem.

Make no mistake, if there is no garage, there is no Hampton Inn. There is no parking for the increased commercial and residential development that we hope for to avoid the stagnation that so many small towns are currently experiencing. Just drive around our state and compare so many places to our vibrant small business community. Are we looking at Dollar Stores in our future downtown instead of the locally owned, unique and interesting stores that we have today? And instead of our lovely options for dining out, are we looking for McDonalds and Outback Steakhouse?

Yes… we want to plan for a community that doesn’t have to drive into town but we want to welcome people who drive cars from AWAY to have a place to stay and a place to park. This is a need that we have now! There will always be vehicles – service, delivery, travelers – that we need. We can grow our own plan for our residents without ignoring that fact.

I sit in meetings with my fellow business owners and listen to the shared woes of not enough customers to support their business, struggling through difficult months of low travel and hoping they can stay open until the next surge either from a citywide sale or the tourist season approaching. This is not a hobby for them, these are their lives and their family livelihood.We all struggle with the ebbs and flows of our tiny city and everyone knows that we all depend upon people who don’t live here.

How is it that a small group of people can squash the wishes of the majority of our residents? This appeal is actually causing our taxes to rise with the legal costs associated with it. How is it that the life and breath of our downtown, the small businesses and restaurants that ARE our city, are not considered by this small group. I am saddened and concerned.

If you don’t know the facts, please go into City Hall and get them… don’t listen to the word on the street. This is a very important time in our City’s history.

Lauren and Wes Parker

Owners of The North Branch Café and North Branch Tech Services

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