OPC seeks to add parking

Marye Miller

Nine years after the Rochester Older Persons Commission moved from an old school on Woodward to a bigger new home on Letica, parking is a problem. Enough so that the governing board is looking into how much it would cost to build a parking garage.

“It’s unbelievable that we need it when you look at the parking we had at the old building,” said board Chairman John Dalton. “We need it desperately bad.”

Parking was one of the top priorities identified in a strategic plan completed in 2008. “We have accomplished all of them but this,” said Executive Director Marye Miller. “I would have never anticipated it 10 years ago. … It’s a good problem to have.”

Local architecture firm French Associates, which designed the OPC building, prepared a drawing for a potential parking structure. It envisions a three-level structure on the east side of the OPC building, the side facing the former Parke-Davis property. The property is steep, which French says means an elevator won’t be needed. The proposal calls for covered parking for the OPC’s vans on the lowest level, plus two more levels for cars, each directly accessing one of the OPC building’s two levels.

The estimated price tag is approximately $2 million, including security gates, cameras and lighting. At the October board meeting, Miller suggested that the structure could be paid for using $1 million from fund balance plus $1 million in fund raising. A campaign called Project Park It was presented to the board at the same meeting.

The governing board voted to request proposals for architectural services and appoint one representative from each of the three communities served by the OPC to a committee. The committee is charged with reviewing bids. On Nov. 15, the group is scheduled to interview three firms: Giffels, Rich & Associates, and French.

Miller said she hopes construction can start in about a year. “This will not come out of the 2013 budget,” she said. “We do have reserve funds. … We’ve been saving money all along. We’ve done our homework on this.”

The OPC does not have authority to incur bonded debt in its own name. Dalton said the plan is to pay cash. “We could use a million of our fund balance and still have a balance our auditors say is enough.”

Miller said there is no doubt that parking is a problem. For large events, shuttle buses are used so cars can park at a downtown parking lot. The OPC is also used as an election precinct.

“People have actually told me they’ve had to leave because there’s no parking,” she said. “The problem is people get angry about it, and you don’t want that to happen.”

A parking structure would provide better handicap access and keep people out of inclement weather as they enter and leave the building, Miller said. It will also provide covered parking for all OPC vans. The current bus garage doesn’t handle the entire fleet, she added.

Speak Your Mind