by Margie Newman (Special to Ecology of Absence)
In downtown St. Louis, employees of the convention hotel and SBC find that parking at meters along 10th Street all day is preferable to parking in the garages. I watch them feeding the meters as they expire; yesterday, one of the hotel workers explained, as he was changing dollars for quarters at Breve, that it's cheaper than the garage.
His choice is rational, but bad for retail businesses, like our art gallery, which need the meter spots to turn over. Of course, the real problem is that the city's parking enforcement currently does not include enforcing the two-hour limit posted on the meters.
Inquiries to our alderman and to the parking czar, Larry Williams, over the past few months have resulted in no change to this failure to enforce, though I did get a call from a city PR consultant, explaining that they don't enforce it because the tickets get thrown out in court. Huh?
Such lame responses to basic, obvious needs -- needs addressed long ago in other places that are functioning and growing -- quite simply wear me out. Taking the time to point out such obvious issues to reluctant-to-change city officials is an endless and exasperating job. The early entrepreneurs in a revitalizing retail district bear enough risk as it is; asking us to shoulder this sort of foolishness
is asking too much.
Too often, I feel like the first soldiers on the beach at Normandy. When we get shredded by the shrapnel, maybe they'll figure out some of these basic operational issues, so the next wave will survive longer.
Margie Newman is co-owner of Gallery Urbis Orbis at 417 N. 10th Street and a downtown resident.