Council doesn't 'accept' parking study

By: Jim Ruffalo Journal Correspondent
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After spending $71,000 and several months of effort, the Auburn City Council wound up rejecting its ballyhooed parking study during Monday night’s meeting at City Hall. Walker Parking Consultants put more than a year into its effort to craft the Parking Demand and Management Study, but when Councilman Kevin Hanley made a motion to “accept the study, schedule meetings with the Old Town and Downtown business associations for further input from them, then have staff return the work to the council,” it quietly died for lack of a second. Councilman Bill Kirby said he found several reasons to fault the study, including its price tag and “that it seemed to lack any real recommendations.” Kirby later said he couldn’t accept the word “acceptance” because “in my mind ‘formal acceptance’ means there’s an implicit tacit agreement with the findings. I’m not in tacit agreement with this study’s findings,” he said. Councilman Keith Nesbitt also faulted the study, saying (Walker) did not do that much research during weekdays, instead taking most of the surveys and concentrating the studies on weekend activities. And during Tuesday morning’s weekly Meddlers meeting at City Hall’s Rose Room, Mayor Mike Holmes told the gathering that “while there are some useful findings” in the report, “the consensus was that we paid too much for it.” Holmes went on to say that should Walker ever ask the city to provide comments on its efforts, it might not want to publicize the results. Still, the study did have its supporters. Bob Snyder, former councilman and current city planning commissioner, insisted “Walker did what it was asked to do, whether we paid too much for it is another question, but the fault may lay with the public process because (reading the study) you’ll see Walker did exactly what we asked it to do.” Hanley also supported the study. “It laid the groundwork for what we can do, and provided us with plenty of options on how to get there,” he said Monday by phone from his office at the state Legislature. After Hanley’s Monday night motion died, he then re-crafted it to omit “acceptance” but retain the parts involving the business associations for input, and having city staff work on the recommendations. That motion was seconded and passed.