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ON SUNDAY, Oct. 30, The Free Lance-Star featured a story entitled "More parking sought for VRE." The gist of the story was that Lot "F" on Sophia Street would no longer be available as of
It is more than unfortunate that Mr. Roeber did not speak truthfully. The fact of the matter is that although we, as owners of Lot F, requested in writing on Oct. 15 that VRE cease utilizing Lot F effective Nov. 1, we were informed by VRE that they would hold us to a 60-day notice requirement in our month-to-month contract. Why VRE would then put out incorrect information about Lot F use terminating as of Nov. 1 is unclear.
I also wish to make clear that at no time did the issue of setting a new lease rate come up. Our request was based on the need for repairs, weather concerns, and our displeasure that, in spite of increased ridership, VRE would no longer even pay to stripe the lot after resurfacing as they had done in the past.
It should be noted that a lot on Princess Anne Street containing about 34 spaces was removed from VRE's lease inventory some months ago. The owner in that case informed me that the rate VRE offered to pay did not make renewing the lease worth it. In the Nov. 1 article in the FLS, VRE spokesman Roeber did not deny that the rate VRE pays to lease lots in the city is affected by the cost of monthly parking in the city parking deck of $60 per month. And, while VRE does not rent space directly in the city parking deck, they can and do effectively use the deck's $60 monthly rate as a benchmark rate in the city.
Private lot owners who have to pay real estate taxes and secure a rental license for their property, as well as foot the bill for lot maintenance, striping, snow removal, insurance costs, etc., are placed at a serious disadvantage in the marketplace versus a government-owned and -operated city deck, in which pricing is arbitrary and city taxpayers ultimately foot the bill. This situation is made even more egregious by the fact that in all discussions leading up to the decision to build the city parking deck, its use for commuter parking was specifically discounted and rejected as a justification for its construction.
On a typical weekday the city deck has about 70 spaces left after the morning commuter influx. Tourists who arrive after 10 a.m. get to park on the upper levels and maybe even on the exposed top level in the weather because commuters have filled the lower levels.
Welcome to Fredericksburg. The obvious answer is to stop subsidizing commuter parking with ridiculously low monthly rates and with so-called "early bird" special rates. No daily user should be able to park all day for less than the reasonable $8 daily rate that we now require a tourist to pay. The monthly rate should either be done away with totally or set at reasonable market price such as $75-$100 for a limited number of spaces on the upper-deck level.
Indeed, some private lot owners might then undertake to again lease their lots to VRE for free ridership use, providing they could negotiate an acceptable monthly rate with VRE. The current $2-a-day city-deck monthly rate has already cost more than 70 parking spaces to disappear from VRE's inventory. Unless the monthly rate is eliminated or adjusted up to a reasonable market rate commuters can expect to find less rather than more available downtown VRE parking in the future.
Van Perroy is co-owner of Fredericksburg Square.