Pave Columbus, put up a parking lot

Published 1:45 pm Tuesday, March 30, 2010

No one ever thinks there is enough parking downtown be it in downtown Tryon, Columbus, Saluda, Landrum.

The Columbus Town Council declined to add parking this week. The Polk County Republican Party headquarters roof collapsed just before Christmas last year. The building must be demolished. Party leaders would rather rebuild elsewhere in town, and have been doing their level best to sell their lot to the town for a 21-space parking lot.

The GOP needs $150,000 from the sale in order to buy another lot, still half the cost of a lot on Mills Street. The GOP was willing to finance that for 30 years at todays low interest rates. If the town were willing to demolish the old building itself, the price could have been $20,000 less.

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It is a rare opportunity that a nice bit of land downtown becomes available. GOP headquarters is located just off Mills Street, a block east of the courthouse square county offices. It is convenient to the House of Flags, hopefully a growing enterprise, and to the Veterans Park, for which folks are even now planning fundraisers to buy additional land. It would be nice parking for Fabulous Fourth.

In addition, were the GOP not to rebuild on the same lot, it would free up alley access to the back of the businesses on the next block of Mills Street, where trash trucks now have trouble servicing their dumpsters. If the GOP rebuilds by current codes, that access will perhaps become impossible. (How did we not protect alleys, anyway?)

It is easy to cite reasons not to act. Cynics worry a parking lot there would just become a smokers hang-out for the restaurants, for one. Certainly, the cost is another. In addition, the town recently commissioned a study which determined that parking at worst 80 spaces short is not a terrible problem as long as patrons and employees are willing, at peak hours, to walk a short ways from their parked cars to their destinations. Still, one has to wonder a bit if this wasnt a golden opportunity missed. JB