By now, the arena traffic and parking study is underway. When the study was announced in June, the company doing it, Louisville’s QK4, promised a series of public forums, and claimed that all interested parties would have input.
At our July 13 ‘Ville Voice Breakfast of Champions event, Jim Host said that while parking is a big issue and is the topic most often asked about, he was confident the number of parking spaces around downtown will be sufficient to handle crowds of 20,000 or so attending events there. Besides, he said, this parking study would bring solid recommendations to avoid problems.
That’s not too hard to believe. But still, we’re wondering why there have been no announcements of public forums on the study, which will end Oct. 1. In fact, the arena authority is only allowing comments from the public through its website, which it’s not publicizing very much. And if you choose to make a comment, you can’t see any of the issues other citizens bring up, stifling any sort of online discussion.
Arena spokesperson Vicki Glass defended the online procedure. “We feel like it’s a better opportunity for people to provide information,” she said. “We can get a variety of information from different people.”
She said it’s still possible that the arena committee will have face-to-face opportunities in a public forum, but none are scheduled.
But restricting public comment to an obscure section of a website sure doesn’t seem like a path to open dialogue on parking and traffic. The decision, as it stands now, is to not release any of the comments for public discussion or view. Which seems a little sneaky to me. It’s certainly not an action in the spirit of transparency. Why not let the public see what other citizens are concerned about?
I’m wondering if there will be any policing of what lot owners charge for event parking, or if it will be a free-for-all like the area around Churchill Downs at Derby time. If there’s one thing that will keep locals away from downtown, it’s knowing that it’s going to cost $10 to park.
Maybe at some point we’ll find out why the Arena Authority isn’t willing to talk about issues in a public forum.