Start the park
File under: urbanism, parking, Wellington
It's not online, but there's an article on page A4 of today's Dominion Post announcing that the planned Courtenay Place Park survived a last-minute "Revocation by Resolution" at last night's council meeting, and construction will start on Monday. I won't go into all the details of the council wranglings behind that, except to point out that one of the councillors who tried to stop this traffic-dominated space from being converted into a park is opposed to the Hilton because it "replac[es] a public park" and will allegedly increase traffic. Hmm.
While I didn't try to occupy a carpark there on Saturday, I spent some time then sitting on a bench and observing how the parks were used. Most of them seemed to be occupied continuously for the best part of an hour, so they're not much use for people who absolutely need to park right outside a particular shop. Most of the people going in and out of the shops had either walked there or parked further away. One guy parked in a disabled park to return a video, without a disabled sticker on his car or any visible disability (unless you count morbid obesity and bad dress-sense). My observations hardly make for a scientific study, but they hint that the retailers' panic about going out of business if their customers can't park right beside their door are exaggerated to say the least.
The opponents are making a big issue out of the fact that some of the businesses are health specialists: Cr Morrison said that "You could say the sick, the elderly and incapacitated will give way to a wine bar and a urinal". While it's no doubt true that a small percentage of their customers will be so frail that walking literally ten seconds to the relocated parks will be out of the question, there's a possible solution. The MedLab building already has a rear entrance on York St, and with a bit of lighting and shelter together with a dedicated drop-off zone it could be a more than adequate option for those who genuinely need it. If the car parks on Courtenay Pl and Taranaki St are converted from 2 hour to 15 minute spaces, that will free up some space for able-bodied people who have a reasonable need to park nearby. And anyone else who grumbles about the loss of three carparks in favour of 1300 square metres of public space is obviously "incapacitated" by chronic car addiction.