Andrew Kerrís letter in the Aug. 29 Fairfax Times slamming the proposed parking garage in Vienna is off the mark. His comments about the need for an Irish pub, a gourmet burger restaurant, a public swimming pool, a ďreinvigoratedĒ community center, and sidewalks, are irrelevant. If people canít find parking to support businesses on Church Street, then the businesses and the Town are the losers.
I donít know if the proposed parking garage arrangement is the best deal for Vienna or not. Obviously, much study and examination will be needed in order to judge the benefits of the proposal. But this I do know. Parking on Church Street is limited and can be difficult to find. I have always tried to patronize businesses and restaurants in Vienna, but anything on Church Street is a challenge, often times requiring one to park in spaces reserved for other businesses or in other neighborhoods. I guess Iím lucky that Iíve never been towed.
One of the problems on Church Street is the many curb cuts required for business entrances and crosswalks. This is a carryover from years ago when Vienna was a very small town and each residential and business lot on Church had its own entrance. But now that Church Street is redeveloping, these multiple curb cuts severely restrict on-street parking. And contributing to that problem are the townís painted parking spaces which leave way too much curb space unavailable for parking. For instance: In the 100 block of Church Street East, in front of the Savia building, is a single on-street parking space, even though enough room exists for two spaces. And next door in front of a hair stylist, is another single space where two spaces could be accommodated. Other examples of wasted curb space can be found in the 100 block West where two more spaces are eliminated by the overly wide berth given to driveway and parking lot entrances.
Mr. Kerr mentions that people have no trouble finding parking for Bazinís restaurant. Perhaps he forgets that an underground parking garage is located directly under Bazinís, and that the restaurant also has parking in the rear. Indeed, if there was parking in the rear of every business on Church Street, then more on-street spaces would be available. Consider that in front of two long-time establishments there is no curb at all because each has four head-in reserved spaces directly in front of the stores. Those eight head-in spaces eliminate about five on-street spaces. If the two buildings were closer to the street, parking could go in the rear and free up the on-street space for use by other patrons. Actually, there are plenty of parking spaces as a whole along Church Street; itís just that they are broken up into small parking areas for each separate business. Some parking lots may be empty, but each one is on private property and is unavailable for use by other businesses. A central parking lot (or garage) that could be used by all the businesses would be a good thing.
Also, the notion that a parking garage in Vienna will breed crime is ridiculous. Parking garages in bad neighborhoods or at large regional shopping malls do have occasional problems, but Vienna is one of the safest and best policed towns in America. The idea that parking garage crime is going to be a problem on Church Street is far-fetched.
I invite anyone to visit the businesses in redeveloped Old Town Fairfax and utilize the free parking garages. Parking is easy and a multitude of restaurants and businesses are within easy walking distance. Everyone in downtown Fairfax benefits from the parking garages; and that includes a great Irish Pub right across the street. The parking garages were a far-sighted investment in congested Old Town Fairfax. If the Town of Vienna were to restrict or discourage motor vehicles from Church Street as Mr. Kerr suggests, then it would certainly kill off commerce in that business section. Bikers and pedestrians are not the answer.
Regarding sidewalks: Sidewalks are nice to have, but unless you live on one of Viennaís principal through streets, they arenít necessary. Most Vienna streets have little traffic and sidewalks are not a priority. On the other hand, Church Street parking should be a priority (whether a garage or some other accommodation) because successful local businesses and convenience for their patrons are important to the Townís financial health.
Edward T. Wenzel, Vienna