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Published February 16, 2011, 06:26 PM

Downtown Grand Forks May Have More Parking Problems

The city of Grand Forks is still searching for alternative parking for Central High School students. The City Council heard from two construction companies looking for parking downtown and are putting more pressure on the downtown parking crunch.

The city of Grand Forks is still searching for alternative parking for Central High School students. The City Council heard from two construction companies looking for parking downtown and are putting more pressure on the downtown parking crunch.

Wesley Austin says one-block walk from the student parking lot to Central High School in downtown Grand Forks is barely tolerable.

"The buildings are really tall and flat on the way to school, so they funnel the wind. It just makes for a painful walk sometimes," said Wesley Austin, a Central sophomore.

This 125-space student lot is closing because of construction on a new apartment building.

"With the Civic lot being closed, I think more of them will automatically go to the ramp and we will have enough to off-set that, but even with the Civic lot open, there were still kids parking in the streets and it would be nice if we had enough spots where they didn't have to," said Bill Hutchison, school district business manager.

The city is leasing 165 of its 400 stalls in the Central parking ramp to the school for the increased need for student parking and general downtown parking.

A recent request by downtown housing developers to the city for 33 spots in the ramp has been tabled by the city for now. Local business owner Jon Bonzer says the parking downtown should even out.

"We're going to move those cars into the top two floors of the ramp. So we're taking an existing group of cars and just putting them somewhere else. With enough spots to accommodate them, that's the plan," Jon Bonzer, owner of Bonzer's Sandwiches and Pub, said.

"We're giving them about as much as we can in that ramp. They always need more but perhaps they're going to have to buy something somewhere down a block away or something, or two blocks, and have some parking there," said City Council President Hal Gershman.

Gershman says the city is trying to come up with other parking solutions as fast as they can. But until then, people like Wesley Austin will have to get used to walking a block or more to their cars.

"I'm going to be a little angry I guess, if we have to park further away than we do now. It just seems wrong that we have to park this far away from a school anyway," said Austin.

The city is currently doing a parking assessment for the downtown area, hoping to find some solution to the parking issues.

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