I was saddened to hear on the news that downtown Bristol is losing nine parking spots in favor of expanding the sidewalk on 6th Street.

It is wonderful that downtown is growing at the rate that it is. On warm Friday nights the streets are filled with people walking around and live music playing. It’s delightful to see downtown so alive. However, the one subject that is not being addressed is parking.

Both states have said it’s something they have discussed, but no action has been taken. It is to the point where if you go downtown, especially on weekends, you may have to park a half mile or more from your desired destination. Most parking lots are privately owned with signs threatening towing. Or you are forced to park in an area with not much traffic or lighting, and you worry about crime.

A parking garage could fix this. I understand there are costs involved including construction, maintenance and staffing, but charging a nominal fee would help recoup some of the cost. After the first few years, it would pay for itself. It could make a substantial amount during special events such as Rhythm and Roots. They could also offer monthly or yearly rates for those who work or live downtown. There are several ways it could be set it up to be profitable and accommodating.

You can’t continue to encourage growth and not adequately address the lack of parking downtown. Tennessee and Virginia both want to reap the benefits of new business but not accommodate the patrons.

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