Mention parking and downtown Raleigh in the same sentence, and most residents would return a roll of the eyes, a groan or two, and a few stories about the nightmare of trying to find a space in the Capital Citys core.
But in one case, wait for the rest of the sentence.
Something is changing in downtown Raleigh, where a previous city council once stood in the way of a wonderful Fayetteville Street art project by famed Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa. In that nightmare of narrow-minded officialdom, the city lost a chance for a signature piece of art for downtown.
But now, about that something. Its the emerging parklet phenomenon in downtown, wherein semi-permanent, privately designed parks created in parking spaces, which go for up to $2,500 apiece, will cover what now are empty parking spots. No one knows exactly what the parks will look like, although a gift shop on Salisbury Street plans natural turf and maybe a juice bar in a couple of its brand new spaces.
Yes, there will be some spaces lost. But city officials note that with parking decks, the city actually has quite a bit of paid parking downtown.
The parklet movement started in San Francisco and Raleigh is trying it out. The loss of a relative few spaces just isnt going to be a big problem, but little parks could be a big addition.. There are plenty of safeguards in place: Nearby property owners have to support the idea; permits must be had; there will not be parklets on Fayetteville Street.
The $2,500 annual fee seems fair.
City officials are due credit for expanding downtown horizons. And say...has anyone thought of putting in a call to Jaume Plensa?