Businesses almost always want more parking. They can never demonstrate why they want more parking, but they’re dead set on getting it. Madison’s main walking corridor, State St., currently has three parking garages and one parking lot within one block of State St. There are eight parking garages within three blocks of State St. All of this for a street that is six blocks long.

So, naturally, the city government is constantly looking for an excuse to turn the little parking lot into a monstrous parking garage. Since the 1970’s that idea has refused to die.

Within the last two years, a special committee was appointed to deal with this issue once and for all. After eighteen months(!), the committee formulated what it felt was the best possible path forward for putting a parking garage on the lot where the parking lot currently sits.

Naturally, the committee voted down its own report before disbanding.

Now, the mayor and a local alderman have decided to go forward with putting a parking garage on the parking lot anyway. They didn’t like the committee’s report or vote, so they simply ignored them, and pushed on by hiring consultants to figure out the best way to put a parking garage where very few people (except State St. business owners) want it.

The city is now spending tax dollars on an idea that has no clear majority of support. While some people certainly get excited anytime someone puts the word “more” in front of the word “parking”, an equal number of people point to the fact that many, if not most, parking garages operate at half-capacity. Also, parking spots in a garage are not cheap. It costs something on the order of $20,000 per parking space to open a new parking garage. Since the city is talking about 300+ parking spots in this new garage, that tallies up to $6 million.

So, while we’re cutting programs in schools and raising already high property taxes, the city is going to spend $6 million dollars on a giant concrete structure very few people want, and that its own special committee already voted down.

Isn’t politics wonderful?