The west end parking lot for Main Street and the downtown area was given to the Housing Authority several years ago. This land had previously been under the control and jurisdiction of the downtown Parking Commission. The city manager, Matt Fertal and his cronies, decided to eliminate the Parking Commission altogether and were then able to do whatever they wanted with the land. (This giveaway was not done by the Main Street Commission) Since then, it has almost been sold to developers on a few occasions, although concerned residents and downtown business owners stepped in and halted the this a few times. It seems like we have lost the fight per the upcoming Main Street Commission meeting agenda. The Housing Authority has until August of 2017 to decide whether to build an affordable housing complex in the parking lot or sell it to a developer who would build something on the property. Due to the shell game that was played by the city, we are now forced to sell the property.
I am sharing this with you because I want you to be an involved citizenry and speak up.
I want the city to explain why they handed over an extremely valuable plot of land that is necessary for our businesses to exist on Main Street and for anyone wishing to shop or eat there.
We have two options on the table right now. We can allow the Housing Authority create a controlled low-income housing facility with rules that the city can enforce and have a full say in the creation of, or we can allow an outside developer come in and do who knows what with the land. I have to support the low-income housing project option with control by the city.
I cannot blindly trust the second option as we could easily see a slum lord move in with no regards for the downtown area and our residents. Sure, they might add something wonderful, but we have no guarantee of this.
We are going to have to wait for the city to complete a parking survey before we learn of their plan to have any parking for Main Street and the downtown area.
If you are interested in reading more of the history of this situation, follow the link below and you will have a lot better understanding of how hard we have fought to keep a public parking lot for downtown. We may never know what our former city leaders had planned for downtown but they have left us with a serious problem to address and your input is going to matter a lot.
I will encourage you to attend this meeting, write to our city manager, write to the Housing Authority, write to our city attorney. If we are not active and involved in our local government, we stand to be bullied and run over because we let it happen.