The problem of too many workers for the available parking is a good problem to have, unless you’re a resident who can’t park near home because of the influx of commuters.
The continued growth of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus has made for an uncomfortable situation in the nearby Fruit Belt neighborhood. It is the reason the notion of a residential permit parking program is being widely embraced.
The parking situation is only going to be further strained by the soon-to-be-built John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital and the University at Buffalo Medical School.
Meantime, residents living in the Fruit Belt near the Medical Campus have loads of stories about having to drive blocks and blocks from home in order to find a place, hopefully legal, to park. In the old days, pre-Medical Campus boom, it wasn’t a problem. Now, because so many Medical Campus personnel are looking to avoid paying as much as $89 a month to park on site, they have started taking up space in front of homes.
That doesn’t sit well with those who live in the area, including Carlton Street resident Benjamin Cashaw. He is sympathetic with the plight of Medical Campus personnel. As he indicated to Buffalo News reporter Susan Schulman, not every employee is a highly paid doctor. There are many low-wage employees who can’t afford to pay the $55 to $89 a month fee for available lots and garages.
Parking permits would provide a viable option for easing the parking shortage for residents. A system was proposed two years ago by Ellicott Council Member Darius G. Pridgen, who is now Council president. The idea won Common Council approval in 2012, but it requires state approval.
Legislation has been introduced by State Sen. Timothy Kennedy and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, both D-Buffalo, for the pilot residential parking program. It would cover parts of Maple, Mulberry, Locust, Lemon, Carlton and High streets.
At least 20 percent of Fruit Belt parking spaces in the permit area would be set aside for non-residents. Commercial and retail areas would not be subjected to the permit process.
This is a common-sense bill that should win legislative approval. Residential parking permits are typical in other cities and the idea is supported by the Fruit Belt Coalition, a neighborhood organization; Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Kaleida Health, the largest employers on the Medical Campus; and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, the corporation coordinating Medical Campus development.
However, the permit system will make the shortage of parking for Medical Campus employees worse. The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus plans to build another parking garage in the next phase of expansion, but workers will need to explore alternatives being pushed by Medical Campus officials, including taking the bus or Metro Rail, bicycling or car pooling. Or, better yet, move into the neighborhoods.
A burgeoning workforce causing parking troubles for a Rust Belt city: It’s a fixable problem, and a sign of the city’s comeback.