GR Chamber wants more say in downtown parking solutions

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s mid-morning on a typical Tuesday in Grand Rapids, and drivers are on the hunt for what’s become more and more elusive to many who live work and play downtown: a parking spot.

“It’s not normally this bad,” said Rachel Verdusco, who has a monthly parking pass for the Pearl Ionia Ramp but still has to hunt for a spot. “If I didn’t have a parking pass here, I’d be a little concerned because parking seems to be disappearing a little bit.”

“Monthly parking permits and what you do with employees and how they get to their jobs has been an issues,” said Josh Lunger, the director of government affairs for the Greater Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. “And this is because we’ve become a growing and vibrant city.”

While growth-induced parking challenges are problems many cities wish they had, officials with the Chamber of Commerce say a recent survey of members suggests some see parking is an obstacle to business growth. So Wednesday, chamber leaders are hosting a meeting with city leaders to talk parking.

“There’s not an easy solution. I think it’s going to be a lot of options. I think it starts with stronger stakeholder engagement,” Lunger said.

While city leaders have mapped out a more mobile Grand Rapids with less vehicle traffic, chamber members want more say on short-term solutions to parking problems.

“What we’ve been hearing from members is that they don’t think they’ve had strong enough communication engagement into what the plan is,” Lunger said.

Chamber officials say they expect a standing-room-only crowd at Wednesday’s meeting. It is not open to the public, but 24 Hours News 8 will be there and let you know what happens.