As a Summit resident, downtown business and property owner. I have closely followed the parking debate.
I support the plan proposed by Steve Pardee and Gil Owren which calls for the addition of 120 spaces to our downtown parking system by reclaiming those spaces from non-resident commuters who are currently parking in the Broad Street East Lot and using them to improve parking for Summit residents, downtown employees and shoppers.
The alternative is to build a multi-level $13.6 million, 415 car garage at the corner of Woodland and DeForest Avenues. Summit's parking consultant has recommended that the garage be paid for by charging shoppers, merchants and downtown employees, with the Summit taxpayers picking up the difference.
In a recent letter to the editor, Tony Melchionna said that if Summit reclaimed these parking spaces from the non-resident commuters NJ Transit would "take over parking and limit the existing Broad Street garage only to NJ Transit passengers." Mr. Melchionna failed to mention that the reason Summit paid for the Broad Street garage without financial assistance from NJT was so that Summit could control its own property for Summit residents, downtown employees and our shoppers.
Several years ago Millburn, faced with a similar choice, restricted its commuter parking to Millburn residents. It is difficult to tell non-resident commuters that they must find parking in their own towns, but it beats the $13.6 million alternative, especially in these very difficult economic times.