Tonight I will be going to the Springfield Falcons home opener in the American Hockey League. If the past is any indication there will be anywhere from 5,000 to 6,000 fans in attendance. McCafferey’s, the local bar which featured in the story that started my mini-series on parking, will most certainly have its busiest night of the week, and quite possibly one of its busiest of the month. There is one thing for certain: none of the easy, empty nearby on street parking which was available on my earlier surveys of “after 5 parking” will be vacant. It will be their busiest night in the bar, yet there will be almost no nearby parking available.
Let me repeat that. It will be their busiest night, yet there will be almost no nearby parking available.
Last weekend I went to The Student Prince’s Oktoberfest celebration, first with my brother, and then with my wife. It was a very popular event in an already very busy part of downtown. I walked down from my house both times, but, with a convention at the Mass Mutual Center, and the symphony’s opening night, there was not a lot of easy, free parking available. There was not the usual quick and easy on street parking, but there were people. Everywhere. Hundreds at Oktoberfest. Nearly 2,000 at Symphony Hall. But no parking.
It is almost as if available parking were a barometer of general demand for what the downtown has to offer on a given night, and not so much a driving factor in the city’s success. The goal should be to make every evening the type of evening where downtown Springfield is the place to be, and then people will find a way to be there.
I haven’t expressed this in the body of a blogpost, though I have in the comments to one of the features on parking; I am in favor of a return of the now blocked off on street parking spaces across from McCafferey’s once MGM construction is completed. Main Street has the width to easily supply that parking, and the cars on the edge of the street provide, as many before me have explained, a physical and psychological barrier between moving automobiles and pedestrians which gives better definition to the pedestrian space. My point all along has been that, even with the loss of some downtown parking, parking remains oversupplied, and underutilized, which means that the problem is that there is not enough “programming”, not enough to do once you have parked in the downtown.
I long for the day when parking becomes a real problem, because that will mean that so many of our other problems have been solved.