Don't take away parking spaces in downtown Bemidji
As a frequent downtown shopper and a former downtown business owner, I have read with great interest the discussion regarding the Lot 3 parking lot that is situated off of Third Street. I am not sure where the issue of traffic going too fast comes into play as no one can maneuver through that lot with any sense of speed. Parking has always been an issue; albeit a good problem to have, however, still a problem. There simply is not enough. I used to have people call my store and say they would have stopped by but could not do so because they could not find a parking spot. There are many individuals who will not shop with a store unless they can park within the block the store sits on. Although this is truly a perception issue, if you go to the mall or any of the box stores, you park a good block away from the door and it has been one that has kept some from shopping downtown.
I frequently park in the Third Street lot, if I am going to have a bite to eat at the places along Beltrami Avenue or seeing one of the businesses along Third Street and I have not seen any problem with the lot itself. It is very easy to get in and out. I agree it would be nice to see it beautified but the bottom line is that it is still a parking lot and should utilize all the functional space for just that, parking; trees or planters could easily be added without much effort. Harmony Food Co-op has already done a good job of sprucing up the area with the painting on their building and the sculpture by the parking lot. There is even parking for bikes.
To sum it all up, I think the Downtown Development Association and the city is putting their members and the taxpayers at a disadvantage by taking away parking spaces. I have read the RDG study and although I agree with many parts of it, the bottom line is the downtown needs more retail to attract more shoppers and, if I were locating a business in this area, one thing I would definitely look at would be the parking for my clients/customers.