One of the things that makes Bemidji a great city is our vibrant downtown. On nearly any given day, you will find our streets, sidewalks and shops abuzz with activity. Which sometimes means downtown visitors might have to park down the block or around the corner from their destination.
But the Bemidji Downtown Alliance believes that a big part of putting out our welcome mat to downtown shoppers and patrons is providing our guests as much convenient on-street parking as possible. That’s why we manage the downtown parking program on behalf of the city, to provide our employees permitted parking in lots, reserving the most convenient parking for our customers.
It's always helpful to get feedback from people parking downtown, such as the Jan. 8 letter to the editor from a downtown employee who works on the 500 block of Beltrami Avenue. As we communicated to her personally, we understand and appreciate her concern regarding walking three blocks to her car after dark.
Sprinkled throughout our downtown, our seven permitted parking lots provide a convenient walk for most downtown employees. However, we recognize that there is a gap in the northeastern corner of downtown, where the letter writer works.
Over the past dozen or so years, the BDA Parking Committee has looked into a couple different locations in this area, but unfortunately we have not yet found the right site for potential city development of a new parking lot.
It continues to be on our mind, and we hope there is an opportunity in the future to work with the city on a location that will provide a closer walk for this employee and others working north of 5th Street and west of Minnesota Avenue.
The Bemidji Downtown Alliance is a volunteer-driven organization of businesses, nonprofits and at-large members of our community who appreciate our downtown and are focused on making it the best it can be. We really appreciate your input and your help.
So please reach out and continue to let us know your thoughts, complaints, and also your creative solutions.
While we know that there will always be problems to solve, we believe that by working together, our downtown can continue to thrive and grow even better.
Ken Cobb, Bemidji, is chair of the Bemidji Downtown Alliance Parking Committee.