I think I see a space!
For people who hate cities the only amount of parking which will satisfy them is precisely the amount which causes the city to cease to be a city, and for people who don’t understand cities, making cities palatable to the people who hate them usually focuses on parking. Not only should parking not be a priority in Springfield’s renewal, if it is a priority, there will be no renewal.
Published peer reviewed papers demonstrate that, for cities, every square foot dedicated to parking is a drag on incomes, population, and economic growth. Millennials are choosing not to drive in record numbers and are choosing to live in places where they can walk, bike, and use public transportation. Great places for people are not great places for cars, just as great places to drive are unpleasant places to walk. Boston, Paris, Manhattan, and closer to home, Provincetown and Northampton are great places to be because provision is made for cars only secondarily.
The changes taking place in the downtown landscape are an opportunity. Springfield, like most American cities, chose the path of auto-orientation after World War II and has paid the price for doing so. While going cold turkey off the “car-fix” might not be advised, taking this opportunity to focus more on making the downtown a better people oriented place is the way to go. The temporary reduction in the ridiculous over-supply of downtown parking, along with the traffic hassles created by the reconstruction of the Interstate 91 viaduct can be just the right combination to encourage people who already work here to live here, and for those who already live here to find work here. If you live downtown you can access both of the region’s largest and best paying employers without using the interstate. The downtown itself provides thousands of jobs. I’ve always been able to find a place to park within a block of my house, but if having a dedicated space for your car is a priority and it isn’t provided with your apartment like it is with Stockbridge Court, Silverbrick Lofts, Armory Commons, and at the Classical Condominiums among others, you can take the money you save on gas by living so close to work, and pay for monthly parking.
My family has lived downtown for most of the last 30 years and while we’ve had up to four adults living, working, and going to school full time, for most of that time we’ve only needed one car. Both of my daughters have graduated from college, both are employed in their field of choice, and neither owns a car nor has a driver’s license. Both intend to live in a place that prioritizes people, not cars. Springfield can choose to be that place, or it can continue to be the kind of city which tries to attract people who don’t like cities.