Controversy over idea of parking garage in downtown Grand Haven

Posted at 6:40 PM, Nov 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-27 18:40:29-05

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. -- It could become a little easier to park in a popular West Michigan tourist town, but the idea of a possible parking ramp in Grand Haven is causing some controversy.

Finding a parking spot in the downtown area during the summer months can be a challenge, which is why the city council is considering the structure.

"Right now it's so early on we're just asking the questions would it ever make sense and where could it be feasible," says Grand Haven City Manager Pat McGinnis.

Everyone is not on board with the idea; some want to leave Grand Haven the way it is, while others say the parking structure could bring in new businesses.

"If we want to see new investment and new vertical construction, then we're going to have to find some way of creating additional parking opportunity," says McGinnis.

Back in August the council hired a consultant group to look at the best locations for a downtown parking garage. They chose a section of land that's already a parking lot between 1st and 2nd Streets, North of Franklin Avenue.

Plans for the multi-level structure could include retail stores and apartments, along with 300 spaces for vehicles. The annual cost would be around $500,000 dollars a year and that includes maintenance fees. City leaders say parking meters would be installed to help cover that cost.

Despite the price tag, the structure could come in handy with the summer crowds.

"It would be helpful during Coast Guard [Festival] time when we have such a large crowd. After that there is lots of parking, if you don’t mind walking a block or two,” says Grand Haven Mayor pro tem Michael Fritz.

This is just the beginning of what could be a lengthy process with lots of council meetings and public input. If the parking garage does get the green light it could be years before it's complete.