Monday, November 15, 2010

Kennedy Speaks Out on Parking Deal

Early this afternoon, Democratic candidate for Mayor, Melina Kennedy, released this statement to the media on the proposed parking assets transfer to ACS. Here is the release:

Economic Development and Our Future must be Paramount in Parking Deal

There has been much debate about Mayor Ballard’s proposed contract with an out-of-state contractor to sell off the City’s parking meters. After considering the Mayor's proposal and listening to that public debate, I have drawn three conclusions that in my view ought to drive the discussion about parking meter modernization.

First, I support the concept of upgrading meters and modernizing their operation and parking enforcement as beneficial to the City in the short and long term. It is not necessarily controversial to observe that our parking meters are antiquated, technology has changed for the better, and that we may draw important lessons pro and con from what other cities have done in their efforts to modernize their parking assets and policies.

Second, however, I am convinced that the Mayor's current proposal will hinder current and future economic development. As the City's former Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, I know that development projects require careful coordination among competing interests, and that many projects fail as their costs rise. By agreeing to substantial penalties for even temporary removal of meters, the Mayor is increasing the cost of every future development that requires closure of parking meters (beyond a minor allowance). The Mayor's proposal, if adopted, will impose greater costs on projects that require removal of parking meters and will make economic development that much harder to achieve. Consider the number of projects where parking meters were bagged or removed for substantial periods of time: the downtown mall, the
Convention Center, the canal, sports venues, restaurants, hotels, the Cultural Trail. All of these projects took a long time to build and would have involved substantial penalties and increased costs to develop had the parking concession agreement now being proposed by Mayor Ballard been in place.

Third, as an alternative, we can do what other cities have been able to achieve in upgrading parking meters without relinquishing all control of their local rights of way to out-of-state corporate interests. For example, recent reports from Minneapolis suggest that our parking meters could be upgraded at a far lower cost than the Mayor contends and without compromising local revenue or control by having the city upgrade meters directly. And in that process I would also support the public-private partnerships with local companies here that both would aid the city in making those upgrades as well as operate the system, as is done now with local companies.

Indianapolis must retain the power and flexibility to react to changing economic needs, but it cannot do so under the deal proposed by Mayor Ballard. Especially in these economic times, we need to be thinking about how we preserve our options for the most aggressive and appropriate economic development now and into the future.

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