Forum on parking deck set for Wednesday
By GARRETT NEESE
HOUGHTON — Houghton is holding its second forum on ideas for life after the big parking deck.
The second public engagement meeting will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the conference room of the Bonfire Restaurant at Continental Fire Company at 408 E. Montezuma Ave. in Houghton.
City officials have backed removing the 43-year-old deck, which has passed its projected lifespan and required an increasing number of repairs over the years.
Following recommendations from the planning commission and a subcommittee formed to explore the parking deck issue, the city council voted in July to begin planning for both the teardown of the deck and what would replace it.
As with the first meeting, Wednesday’s will be facilitated by Pat Coleman of North of 45.
He said the next meeting will include a review of the first meeting, followed by a look at some of the options for solving the problem.
“We’ve done more research into some of the issues that were identified, like converting Shelden to a one-way parking street as well as the financial considerations for, first of all, demolishing the existing structure of the parking deck and replacing it,” he said.
Coleman will also discuss the potential for future development.
“It should be an interesting meeting, and I encourage people to come out and get involved,” he said.
At the first public engagement session in September, Coleman gave the more than 60 participants an overview of the deck’s history. They then split into groups to discuss possible options. After each group presented their ideas, the lists of suggestions were put on the wall where people could vote using stickers.
One popular idea was moving U.S. 41 off of Shelden Avenue and converting the street to one lane with angled parking. Others included building middle and upper-middle housing, and a smaller, denser deck that would allow existing businesses to maintain back access off of Lakeshore.
The city council approved hiring Coleman for up to three meetings. How people respond to what’s presented Wednesday will help determine where the process goes from there, Coleman said.
“Certainly as the city moves forward with this process, there will be more meetings,” he said.
“It’s not going to be the end of it. It’s a big conundrum, figuring out what s life going to be like without that facility and how do we replace it.”