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Forces of Nature and a


Given the option of having a downtown shopping district with paid or free parking, most people would naturally


choose free parking. In fact, introducing paid parking has been a continual struggle between municipalities and citizens, with the latter often protesting paid parking and many business owners claiming that it hurts business. Five years ago, Dr. Craig


Brown, DDS, would have been right there with them, and, he said, it literally took a power- ful force of nature to change his mind. Brown is a pediatric den-


The parking meters had previously ensured a systematic


tist doing business in Galve- ston, TX. In September 2008, Hurricane Ike hit the island, devastating many of the munic- ipality’s homes and businesses. The downtown district was one of the most heavily impact-


The committee “allocated a portion of the revenue generated from parking to be put into the marketing efforts to rebuild tourism in Downtown Galveston.”


ed, with even all its parking meters being destroyed. It took more than six months just to clean debris from the streets.As business- es dug themselves out of the rubble, they began to open again in hopes of rebuilding financially. Unfortunately, the physical reconstruction of the city


brought with it a parking-related conundrum: On-street parking was being monopolized by contractor and employee vehicles, leaving business customers and patrons with nowhere to park.


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rotation of vehicles, but the monopolized parking spaces were proving detrimental to the growth and revitalization of the city’s business district. Many businesses futilely attempted to control parking on their own using signs but, Brown said, soon realized that “if we were ever going to tru- ly rebuild our businesses, restoring order to downtown parking was imperative.” Though the city acknowl-


edged the importance of re- establishing a parking man- agement system, it obviously needed to prioritize other aspects of the revitalization first. “That’s when some of us


in the business community learned that funds were available through FEMA and just needed an organized committee to drive the process,” Brown said. “True to Galveston’s reputation as a small town with vocal


citizens, and knowing how important parking is to local business, we assembled a group of business owners to form a grass-roots movement we called the Downtown OversightCommittee for the Selection of Parking.” Brown said.


Parking Today www.parkingtoday.com


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