Just What Pottsville Needs – A $7 Million Parking Lot
The last thing Pottsville needs right now is a parking lot.
Correction: The last thing Pottsville needs right now is a $7 million parking lot.
But apparently, that’s what we’re going to get.
And apparently, by saying $7 million, we’re being optimistic.
Last week, the Pottsville Parking Authority opened bids on the Mahantongo Street Parking Garage project.
Here’s what they found:
- 4 companies submitted bids by the deadline
- The high bid came in at $9.5 million
- The low baller among the four came in with a $6.3 million bid
- No local companies submitted a bid for the project
Here’s a look at the bid details, from information available at Levkulic Associates, engineers on the project:
The Mahantongo Street Parking Garage Project
After the last parking garage at the corner of Mahantongo and Second streets in Pottsville was deemed a danger to everyone, it got knocked down. For about a year, we’ve looked at an empty lot. The former garage is either pounded into rubble on the site or got hauled away.
This is what you see lately:
Faced with the decision on what to do — with practically no money — the city said, “Let’s build ANOTHER parking garage!”
After all, if there’s one thing Pottsville doesn’t have, is enough parking for all the sites and sounds to take in downtown. Gosh, if there were just a few more parking garages or even parking lots, things would probably look a lot differently around here 🙃.
Well, that’s the thinking, even though it’s literally one of the things most distant from fact.
There’s Plenty of Parking – Most of It’s Empty Most of the Time
Of course, the idea that businesses can’t make it in downtown Pottsville because there’s no parking is absurd.
There’s parking EVERYWHERE. And most of the time, the lots are completely empty.
Check out this map commissioned by Pottsville Area Development Corp. of the land use in downtown Pottsville. This one highlights the land dedicated to parking downtown. The parking spaces are in purple.
That’s a lot of purple. It’s kinda hard to make the argument that there isn’t enough parking in Pottsville.
In fact, it’s a lot easier to argue, there’s too much parking in Pottsville. Most of it, yes, is self-serving.
But saying that a new Mahantongo Street Parking Garage is necessary is ridiculous.
However, this is Pottsville and that’s been the thinking for decades.
Big Problem: Pottsville Has NO Money
Technically, the city had no money to fix the crumbling parking garage that was on Mahantongo Street. Or at least not nearly enough. The idea of putting a movie theater on the top of it didn’t have enough financial support. It was a bit nutty, too. Dozens of empty buildings in Pottsville — especially downtown — and someone has the bright idea of putting a movie theater on top of a parking garage that couldn’t support cars parked on the ground floor.
The movie theater remains a good idea but c’mon …
So, that left Pottsville with a useless parking garage and still not enough money to build a new one.
Somehow Dick Yuengling got involved — because he was looking for a definitely necessary parking lot for visitors to the Yuengling Brewery — and poof, there’s enough money for a parking garage.
Yuengling admitted as much in an interview with WNEP, calling his $2.8 million donation to the project “a little selfish” but still well-intended.
So, we’re getting a brand new parking lot in Pottsville.
Here’s what it will look like, according to a rendering available at levkulicgroup.com:
Not really sure if we’re supposed to flip over this. We like how the street looks like an ocean of tar. Seems about right considering the real status of the streets in Pottsville.
Mahantongo Street Parking Garage Project Details
The money in those bids includes everything. Literally, everything, from supplying every last building material used in the new garage to dusting off the plaque when they’re ready to cut the ribbon on this thing.
Yeah … the plaque.
It’s funny. They don’t have a plaque on the fenced-in area around the big hole in Progress Avenue.
But they’ll have a plaque for this garage because Democrats love to put their names on inanimate objects. Here’s what it’ll look like:
We’re almost at the end of 2019, so the process between bidding and starting construction needs to speed up for this to be completed by some time in 2020. We’re not worried that it won’t get finished, though. Pottsville loves parking garages. It’s another way to nickel-and-dime people.
The Real Issue with the New Mahantongo Street Parking Garage
The real problem here is the lack of vision. Pottsville doesn’t need another parking garage. It doesn’t need one more single parking spot.
What it needs is a reason to park downtown. We still don’t have that. The Mahantongo garage has been down long enough now that we know it’s not really necessary.
So, we’re faced with a big empty lot smack dab in the middle of an historic downtown area that needs a kick in the pants and we decide to put up a parking lot.
At least we didn’t choose the infamous “green space” as a bigger waste of space.
It’d be better if the land weren’t owned by the city, of course.
But, this could have been the site of a new office building or office building and retail mixed space. It could have been that movie theater they wanted.
Even today, people will walk blocks just to get to a business or store they want or need to get to. And if that’s not possible, they’ll find another way.
But in Pottsville, there just aren’t enough of those places.