Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A problem looming on Salemtown's horizon

East Nashville reserves parking for neighbors.
West Nashville reserves parking for neighbors.
At the last Salemtown neighborhood association meeting a Metro Police officer told us about changes likely coming to Germantown streets. After spending some time working to persuade his superiors about the problem of traffic choking Taylor St. and overflowing onto 7th Av. N. and 6th Av. N. due to the wildly popular restaurant, Rolf and Daughters, he believes that the department is prepared to restrict parking on Taylor between 5th Av. N. and Rosa Parks Blvd. to one side of the road. That would be a welcome change to those of us who have tried to navigate the narrow road in our vehicles between a closely set gauntlet of parked vehicles. However, it is also bound to lead to increased parking challenges on the side streets as residents will vie with bar patrons for remaining open spots.

The parking problems caused on Taylor by inbound restaurant patrons should be a wake-up call for those of us who live north of Germantown: parking in a neighborhood that generally does not have driveways is going to become more problematic. We need to start working on solutions like other Nashville neighborhoods have.

The problems will be compounded if mixed-use retail and dining establishments spread into Salemtown. There is a plan for mixed use at the hulking new Werthan Flats development at the other end of the block from Rolf and Daughters, right on Salemtown's doorstep. The apartment dwellers of the Flats and their visitors will themselves surely overflow into Salemtown. I am aware of attempts already made to launch a new restaurant on 6th Ave in Salemtown, which will cause considerable congestion around the adjacent blocks. When I served on the citizen advisory committee for Salemtown's block grant, we recommended putting the same traffic calming bulb-outs that 5th and 7th enjoy on 6th, but Metro disapproved, saying that 6th is too narrow for bulb-outs. If it is too narrow for traffic calming features, it might just be too narrow for residents to park alongside the traffic congestion caused by restaurants. The northern part of Salemtown will not be spared as Salemtown Cottages, an urban-density development offering 2 dozen units north of Buchanan St., is set for launch.

Add to that the Mayor's plan for a ballpark a few blocks away set to open in 2015. We will be overrun by automobile traffic with no guarantees of places to park near our homes.

Opposes parking permits on public streets.
These problems are compounded by the fact that our council member Erica Gilmore has said that she opposes any reserved residential parking on public streets (or so she told me at a recent community meeting when I brought the question up to her). She enthusiastically supports the Mayor's ballpark, but she flatly opposes residential permits. Yet, permits could give residents who live near the ballpark a fighting chance for convenient parking spaces even when they come home from work or from picking their kids up from soccer practice late on a Sounds' game night. If CM Gilmore is going to reject residential permits out-of-hand, then she should propose alternative solutions to the looming problem.

In my opinion, Salemtown should be proactive about this problem before it overtakes us. We need to start planning parking provisions for the people who live here to balance the flood of people who would come in as we grow. We need to work together to persuade our council member that she should represent residents' interests and not just the interests of retail establishments that fill in the mixed-use and strive to pull in more customers in automobiles. We need to show up at planning meetings in order to make clear when developers want to rezone for restaurants--on 6th or anywhere else--that they need to make traffic mitigation, parking plans and support for reserved residential parking priorities in their plans in exchange for our support.

Above all, we need to ask out loud, "Why is reserved residential parking on public streets good for Nashvillians to the east and to the west, but bad for their neighbors to the north?"

1 comment:

  1. Parking is a real quality-of-life issue, and you deserve to have local representatives that see eye-to-eye with residents on this.

    I'd suggest cutting out a driveway-sized piece of the curb in front of your house, making it look like a driveway. And towing. Lots of towing.

    Good luck. Aside from reserved parking, there must be other things to consider - off-street parking, more valet to a designated parking, more taxis, who knows.