MORE PLACES TO PARK
By Bill Rautenstrauch
An upcoming rearrangement of parking areas in downtown La Grande will net 38 to 60 new spaces, including 30 dedicated for full-time or part-time use by N.K. West Building tenants.
The project, scheduled to begin this month, is the result of a detailed study conducted last year by the La Grande Parking, Traffic Safety and Street Maintenance Commission, said Norm Paullus of the city's public works department.
"It was a big area we reviewed," Paullus said. "We analyzed it and thought we could make some modifications that would yield more spaces."
The biggest enhancement to downtown parking will appear on the north side of Jefferson Avenue between Chestnut and Fir streets.
There, an area will be paved to the right of way line to make way for a 90-degree parking area. The addition will add between 32 and 50 parking spaces.
Commission recommendations on the dedicated N.K. West Building parking spaces were accepted by the city council last May.
Salem-based Telos Development could not have proceeded with construction of the four-story, residential and commercial building at 1206 Adams Ave. without dedicated parking.
Telos will be the main beneficiary in the restriping of two public parking lots on Washington Avenue.
The lot on Washington Avenue between Elm and Fir is targeted for change, as is the lot on Washington across from the Elks Club.
Both lots will utilize a 90-degree parking arrangement. Eleven new spaces will be picked up in the lot between Fir and Elm, nine in the other lot. All those spaces will be dedicated to N.K. West tenants 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Ten other spaces in the lot between Fir and Elm will be dedicated to N.K West tenants between the hours of 6 p.m. and 8 a.m.
Paullus said the Washington Avenue entryway to the lot on Washington between Fir and Elm streets will be eliminated, with non-dedicated parking spaces placed where the entry was.
The public lot across from the Elks Lodge on Washington will be restriped from angle parking to 90-degree parking. The nine added spaces will be dedicated for N.K. West tenant use, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Paullus said Telos will pay $18,000 toward the parking reconfiguration project. The firm also will make an annual payment of $500 for administrative costs.
Telos's building includes commercial space on the ground floor and 24 apartments on the upper levels.
On the south side of Washington between Sixth and Fir streets, the city will reconfigure parking from parallel to angled.
In the current configuration, there is room for nine vehicles; the conversion will result in five more spaces. The 14 spaces will be non-dedicated.
During its study of the downtown parking issue, the commission formulated seven options, eventually recommending three to the city council.
The rejected ideas included angled parking on Jefferson Avenue, angled parking on Fir Street between Adams Avenue and Jefferson, acquisition of the empty lot at Fourth and Jefferson, and elimination of three driveways at the Old Fire Station at the corner of Elm and Washington.
The options were rejected because they were not cost effective, netted few new spaces or reduced spaces.
Paullus said the reconfiguration of downtown parking is long overdue.
"It's been an issue since I started with Public Works in 1973," he said.
Paullus said work on the parking project will start when the current spate of rainy weather lets up.
"We'll do it in phases beginning with the work on Jefferson," he said.