By Sharon Ko
MEDFORD, Ore. — Businesses and many students say parking in downtown Medford is a headache, but the city hopes continued developments will ease parking dilemmas.
Students have one word to describe parking in downtown Medford: “catastrophe.” Some say they have to drive around several blocks to find a spot.
“A constant problem, I’ve seen over and over again: kids being late for school. Kids having to miss their class in the middle of learning,” says one student, Andrew Johnson.
Businesses like Tacos Mi Terra say they’re losing business because of it.
“A lot of people do not stop by in the business because they can’t find parking and they do tell me when they’re here: ‘oh it’s so good to be here and we only come here when we can,’” says Tacos Mi Tierra Manager Joana Rami.
The city of Medford says the commons project to build extra parking space is still underway.
“Preliminary results say that we look good, we have plenty of parking for the first two years of the development,” explains Lynette O’Neal, Assistant to the City Manager. “And as it builds out, we do need to looking adding additional locations.”
But the project will not be completed for several more years. Till then, the city has a few options. There’s parking spots available at the Evergreen Garage, Front Street and the side street. But students say those hours of free parking aren’t enough.
“Who has a one-hour class?” says Johnson. “There are no one-hour classes anywhere. And to leave and get to class is longer than an hour.”
The city says there’s also the option to pay-by-phone, a tool where students can pay to stay longer if they need. For businesses, the city suggests registering online to validate parking for customers.
Changes to parking on Main Street are also in the works.
City officials are thinking about adding some parking machines along the street. They spoke with businesses who say it could help customers who want to stay longer; that decision will be left up to the city council.