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Published November 18, 2011, 05:28 PM

Parking Study Aims to Improved Downtown GF Parking

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Downtown parking has been an issue the city of Grand Forks has been looking at for quite a while.

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Downtown parking has been an issue the city of Grand Forks has been looking at for quite a while.

Some business owners might be happy to pay less for parking spaces after a downtown parking study.

The study had the Grand Forks-East Grand Forks Metropolitan Planning Organization sharing possible changes to how parking is provided downtown with business owners.

There are mixed feelings on what should be done.

Finding a parking space downtown can be difficult at certain times of the day, depending on where you are.

"You can definitely notice. We'll have cooks come in here 5 or 10 minutes late saying they were looking for a spot. They had to park in the ramp or a couple blocks away," Rhombus Guys kitchen manager Connor Paulson said.

"For us, the parking is more of a perceived problem for us. At our busiest time, there really isn't a problem with parking," Joe Black's co-owner Dennis Blackmun said.

These are issues the MPO has been looking at for more than a year. A downtown parking study recommends reformulating the way parking spaces are paid for.

With the change, property owners would be assessed instead of business owners.

Some owners like things the way they are.

"The parking ramps especially are underutilized at night when the big employers do leave there is a lot more space open in the ramps and they're very expensive and assessments are plenty right now so I don't want to see those go up," Blackmun said.

With the proposed changes, assessments would go down slightly after an increase in the district size to include more businesses. City leaders also need to figure out what each new development needs.

"Part of the study will identify the demand that those developments will put on parking in the downtown and that will allow us to better gauge what type of parking we'll have to require," Urban Development director Greg Hoover said.

Over the next year, the school district will also gain another lot freeing up some of the parking space downtown. Making parking a little easier for business owners, as well as customers.

"As downtown has perked up with more activity it's definitely gotten more congested, I think we're ok now but in a few years you will definitely see the congestion getting bad," Paulson said.

The change in assessments would not be implemented until January of 2013.

Over the next year, the department will be working on parking ramp improvements, better signage in ramps and better communication with people about public parking.

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