Friday, September 17, 2010

PARKing space: A little in the lot

Posted on Fri, Sep 17, 2010 at 1:53 PM

"What the heck's this all about, anyhow?" the old guy asks. He had pulled into Coeur d'Alene's Independence Point parking lot on a gray Friday morning to walk his little dog along the waterfront. Unlike any other morning, however, he found the parking stall behind his car's was a little island of sod, surrounded by several man-high blue spruce trees with holly bushes and a picnic table.

"We are sending a message to the city that we want park space, not parking space," answers Cathleen O'Connor of the Kootenai Environmental Alliance.

"We have water. And apples. You can sit and read your magazine with us," adds Carol Muzik, one of the KEA board members who transformed parking slot No. 55 into a temporary island of respite in the sea of asphalt.

The old guy had difficulty hearing, so this conversation took several tries. He seemed friendly, however, until it sunk in.

"That's the craziest thing I ever heard! People need a place to park to come to the park," he cries, and walks off towards City Beach with his little dog, too.

But KEA, several downtown business owners and a handful of others say it's crazy for the Lake City to under-use some of its most beautiful real estate — such as the little parking lot at Independence Point — by merely stashing cars there. The group latched onto the national PARKing Day movement for the first time this year, to try and push the idea of fewer parking slots from Independence Point into downtown.

KEA members and friends set up little islands of tranquility in five parking spaces run either by the city or Diamond Parking. The city was incredibly cooperative, O'Connor says, even waiving most of the permit fees.

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