Public can view downtown plans

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 6, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Build it and they will come.

With construction of three major downtown cornerstones under way or slated to begin within the next few months, the city now needs a place for the anticipated insurgence of downtown visitors to park.

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Parking was one of several issues that emerged as downtown revitalization priorities when the Mayor’s Greater Downtown Development Committee met on Wednesday with Ray Gindroz, chief planner with the Pittsburgh-based Urban Design Associates.

The committee of approximately 30 city representatives and downtown investors gathered in Suffolk Presbyterian Church to review and revise its Downtown Initiative Plan.

The committee’s initial plan, established five years ago, included three major goals: Construction of the Constant’s Wharf hotel and conference center, turning the former Suffolk High School into a cultural arts center, and renovating the Professional Building.

&uot;The need for more parking is becoming increasingly urgent,&uot; said Ross Boone, a committee member. &uot;…Everything has been designed to bring people into the city. Right now, we don’t have adequate parking facilities for them.

&uot;If Suffolk is going to be successful, we have got to figure out how we can move them (through the downtown area) in a quick fashion.&uot;

Boone and Gindroz agreed that a parking garage – which has been discussed periodically over the last two decades – would be the most effective way to alleviate the problem.

Several spots in the downtown area could be used for parking, Gindroz said, including one lot bordered by Commerce, South Main and East Washington streets.

&uot;Physically, it would be a piece of cake,&uot; he said. Also, a parking garage there would help link the Hall Place, Fairgrounds and Main Street communities.

Trevor Spiers, who is developing College Court, recommended that the city put high-risk enforcement sanctions in place. For example, the city could require property owners whose building are in poor condition to buy costly high-risk insurance.

&uot;There is a group of people who own houses in states of disrepair,&uot; said Spiers. &uot;How about holding them accountable? No more Band-Aids.

North Main Street homeowner Tom Woodward agreed, saying stronger police patrol and zoning enforcement are direly needed in the downtown community.