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Businesses have mixed reactions to parking proposal


As manager of Hemp & Bead, Max Rondeau knows the new plan to create residential parking in downtown Fargo could impede customer parking.

But as a resident of downtown, Rondeau couldn't be happier with what the city has proposed.

"It's not that there aren't places for customers to park down here," he said pointing to the nearly vacant lot across the street from his First Avenue North business.

"It could possibly affect where my customers park, but I'm still more for the idea than against it. I've always thought they needed to do something with the parking downtown."

Rondeau, who lives in a three-bedroom apartment downtown, said he and his roommates share the two parking spaces that come with the apartment.


"We take turns paying the parking tickets for the other," he said.

It's residents like Rondeau who got the city thinking. Thursday, the Parking Commission took action and approved a plan that would designate specific residential parking zones downtown.

Residents willing to pay the $25 per month for a parking permit could park in the designated area for up to 12 hours at a time.

The idea is that people would be able to find good parking without having to move their vehicle every 90 minutes.

The plan also will encourage residential development downtown, said Dave Anderson, president of the Downtown Community Partnership.

But Anderson knows it can be a balancing act to address business and residential needs downtown.

"We need to be able to accommodate the person who lives downtown as well as the business that relies on the turnover along the streets," Anderson said. "It's finding that balance."

Marjorie Thomson, manager of Haute Boutique, 1 8th St. S, has concerns, however, that the businesses along her street might be the ones to suffer from the new parking system.


"Parking already is a real sticky situation around here. It's not enforced very well, so you've got people parked all day," Thomson said. "People say, 'Marjorie, we'd come to your store, but we can't find parking.'"

This isn't the first time Thomson has gone through something like this. When the city eliminated parking on Main Avenue near her store, she said business went down 30 percent.

Thomson is afraid that could happen again since her street also is lined with second-floor apartments.

"If they took away any of our business parking here, it would be the kiss of death," she said. "We need to focus on getting more customers downtown, and I don't know if this is the answer."

Steve Langstaff, apartment manager at 510 4th Ave. N., said he believes business and residential development go hand in hand.

If parking is improved in the area, it can only mean good things for the rental market, Langstaff said.

"Take the Renaissance Zone projects ... the city gives businesses money to move in, so why not give residents something, too?" he said.

David Valdez, manager of The Flower Market, 635 1st Ave. N., also is in favor of the new downtown parking system.


Valdez lives and works downtown and said he would rather see parking specifically for the people who live there. It could potentially open up more parking spaces for customers, he said.

"It doesn't sound like a bad thing," Valdez said. "It's good if everyone has their own place to park. I doubt it will make a big difference businesswise."

Bob Stein, a Fargo senior planner, said the city will consider carefully which areas to designate for residential parking. This potentially could be the most difficult part of all, Stein said.

"Don't expect these spaces to be right on Broadway," he said. "We really want to avoid taking up business space."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mary Jo Almquist at (701) 241-5531

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