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100 more parking spaces approved for downtown

A plan to create 100 more parking spots in downtown Fargo was approved Friday, as part of the preparations for a huge influx of North Dakota State University students this fall.

NDSU's Renaissance Hall
Students enter North Dakota State University's Renaissance Hall in downtown Fargo recently. David Samson / The Forum

A plan to create 100 more parking spots in downtown Fargo was approved Friday, as part of the preparations for a huge influx of North Dakota State University students this fall.

Parking Commission members approved creating 70 diagonal parking spaces on the south side of NP Avenue between University Drive and 10th Street. The north side of the street would have about 30 parallel parking spaces, Senior Planner Bob Stein said.

But that may be the easiest parking to create in advance of the opening of NDSU's College of Business in the new Richard H. Barry Hall on Second Avenue North.

With 4,000 people a day using Barry, Klai and Renaissance halls on the downtown campus daily, the city's parking gurus say it will require extensive use of buses by students - and perhaps even downtown workers - to accommodate everyone's transportation needs.

Beyond the 100 spots identified Friday, Barry and Klai halls will have 300 parking spots for students, staff and teachers, said Bruce Frantz, NDSU's director of facilities.


And Stein said the search for parking will go on. "If we could find another 50, 80, 100 spots, that would really be huge," he said.

What officials really hope is that students will embrace an initiative to provide continuous busing from campus to downtown.

Stein, and Bruce Frantz, NDSU's director of facilities, said buses are planned to run about every 10 minutes.

"Our goal will be that most people will take the bus," Frantz said.

Others say part of the solution is people need to give up the one-car, one-person, one-parking-spot mindset.

Dave Anderson, head of the Downtown Community Partnership, said the time may be now for car-pooling and the park-and-ride set-ups used extensively in larger metro areas.

"It may be that there are a number of people who work downtown that might be able to try the transit (bus) option ... so we don't have to have as many parking spaces," he said.

"If there are people that are bringing a car downtown just to store it for nine hours, then maybe we can store it someplace else other than in a parking place (downtown)," he said.


City Commissioner Mike Williams said MeritCare Hospital has a successful program that pays for employees to use buses. He said the city would also expand its park-and-ride program from its current five sites if needed.

"There's no one solution. It's a multipronged effort to make best use of the infrastructure ... and make it so you don't have to drive," Williams said.

Tracy Walvatne is a Parking Commission member and co-owner of Josie's Corner at 524 Broadway. She said there is adequate parking in most of downtown, but businesspeople want city and NDSU officials to do as much as they can to prepare for the influx of students now, rather than wait for parking problems to stall downtown's resurgence.

"There is the reality of a couple of campuses downtown," Walvatne said. "While we welcome the activity and the students, we want to be sure we have a place for everybody."

That's true especially for the north and west areas of downtown, which will be closest to the business and architecture campus.

"With those people come cars," Walvatne said. Businesses just want to be sure parking is "comfortable for students, shoppers and employees working downtown."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583


Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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