Your page 18 report in the Sept. 23-Oct. 6 edition about the reconstruction of West 50th Street leaves out many important facts about the situation. Although the city and county are quick to say that the project has broad support, many of the business owners near the 50th & Xerxes intersection have significant reservations about it.
The proposed redesign of 50th Street will eliminate parking along the south side of the street near Xerxes. This is a devastating development to the neighborhood businesses along that stretch, given the lack of off-street parking in the area. And, although the rush-hour restrictions are being removed from parking on the north side of the street, the number of parking places is being reduced. Many of the business owners attending a recent Fulton Neighborhood Business Association meeting noted that the reduced parking during the summer test resulted in lower customer volume.
A less-invasive design could accomplish the same traffic flow goals of the street redesign without reducing the availability of parking. For example, the bus stop currently located on the northeast corner of the 50th & Xerxes intersection could be moved across Xerxes to the northwest corner of the intersection. This simple move would create additional parking places.
Also, parking between 49th Street and 50th Street should be allowed on the east side of Washburn Avenue. Parking there currently is prohibited during school hours, but now that school buses no longer use Washburn Avenue, and a new, secure fence separates the street from the schoolyard, there is no reason that space cannot be made available all day long for parking.
In addition, details about a major retail/housing construction project on the northwest corner of 50th & Xerxes are just emerging. If that project proceeds, the need for parking in the area will only grow. Any 50th Street redesign must take into account such construction projects.
While the city and county may feel that everyone will benefit from the proposed redesign of 50th Street, the fact of the matter is that a very key group of stakeholders in the process remains concerned. Until the parking situation is resolved, the redesign proposal cannot be considered to be an improvement.
Tom Bengtson CEO, NFR Communications 4948 Washburn Ave.