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December 05, 2003

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Publication Date: Friday, December 05, 2003

Council splits on future of parking structure Council splits on future of parking structure (December 05, 2003)

Vote will be due next month

By Julie O'Shea

One of the most divisive issues the city council has faced this year regards the future of a $14.5 million parking garage on California and Bryant Streets.

After splitting at an earlier meeting on whether to include retail on the site, council members spent another Tuesday night study session butting heads on the matter. However, City Manager Kevin Duggan indicated he wants the situation resolved by the first meeting in January, when he'll ask for a final vote.

Council member Nick Galiotto, who had been in favor of retail shops in September, pulled his support, leaving Mayor Mike Kasperzak and Council member Matt Neely the only two rallying for that option.

Council member Mary Lou Zoglin still seems on the fence, stating that she would like to put a pedestrian friendly fašade on the garage project but questioned whether giving up parking spaces for retail was the right answer given the dour economy's uncertain future.

Council members Matt Pear, Rosemary Stasek and Greg Perry remained steadfast in their support of maximizing the project's parking potential. Omitting the retail option could save the city $1.5 million, which is a big selling point for many council members.

But the mayor wants to keep the city's options open.

"We need to maintain the flexibility of this structure," Kasperzak said. "This is going to be a 40-, 50-year structure. We need to preserve the options for the future." And this means making room for shops such as a grocery or drug store.

"I would implore anyone who's on the fence here to come over to the other side," Kasperzak said with a laugh. "Rosie, Nick, what would it take for you to support retail?"

Stasek and Galiotto could not be persuaded, though. Both fear that more retail means more early morning delivery trucks blaring down city streets and disrupting the peace.

"Are we creating a 40-year nightmare (by approving retail)?" Stasek questioned.

And if the council approves retail at the location, it will still have to find another spot to build parking spots to accommodate extra shoppers, chimed in Pear.

"I want to find the best solution," said Perry, who also opposes retail at the California-Bryant location.

In September, the council informally opted for a design scheme that includes a setback on Bryant Street and has room for up to 420 spaces if there is a small retail space.

The project, which has been in the works for the last few years, will be paid for through bond funds.

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