Parking in downtown Missoula may be difficult sometimes, but that’s nothing compared to planning the city’s parking layout for the next 20 years.
To help with this task, members of the public were invited to comment on the parking aspect of the city’s Greater Downtown Master Plan Wednesday night at the downtown Holiday Inn. Dennis Burns, Vice President of Studies & Operations at Carl Walker, Inc. (the group working with Portland, Ore.-based consultants Crandall Arambula), gave a public presentation of city’s current parking situation and what it’s options for the future are.
“Your program here is much better than average,” Burns said of the current parking situation in Missoula. “In fact I’d say you are in the top 25 percent of any parking program I’ve ever seen.”
There is, however, room for improvement Burns said, especially as Missoula looks toward future growth.
There are currently 2,187 on- and off-street parking spaces downtown, but Burns speculates we could need up to 1,000 more in the next few years to support the city’s Greater Downtown Master Plan.
As Burns pointed out, there are many ways Missoula can incorporate parking facilities into its urban design goals. He said in Vancouver, for example, they wanted more green space and area for community gatherings so they built a parking garage that had a park and ice-skating rink on the top level.
Several people who attended the public meeting said they think more downtown parking should be available for customers, so the businesses in the area can flourish.
“I would like to see downtown be more customer-friendly. It would be to the advantage of people visiting and to the retailers,” Jim Dayton, Pilzville resident and frequent Missoula visitor said.
A 52-page draft of the Downtown Missoula Parking Assessment is available online at www.missouladowntownbid.org. The third series of public workshops, which are a part of the overall Greater Downtown Master Plan, are scheduled for Sept. 2-4.