Is parking in downtown Fayetteville a problem?

If you’ve lived in Fayetteville for more than five minutes, you’ve probably noticed that we’ve experienced quite a bit of growth around here lately.

In fact, according to the US Census website Fayetteville’s population grew over 18% from 2000-2006.

There are plenty of growing pains that come with the kind of rapid growth like we’ve experienced here in town, and we have our share to deal with as well. One of those issues that we are just beginning to encounter is the parking (or lack thereof) in our downtown area, on the square, and near Dickson St.

Sure, we’re no Manhattan, and sure, if you look for a little while or you’re willing to walk a short distance, you can almost always find a place to park downtown. But as all those condos on Dickson St. and the square fill up with people, and as our city continues to grow, parking is going to become more and more of an issue for all of us to deal with.

Surprisingly, parking was not a focus of the Fayetteville Forward summit a couple weeks ago. Fayetteville Forward was centered around economic development in Fayetteville, and while it isn’t the most important factor in growing our business community, it certainly comes in to play, especially when considering developing our downtown area.

Basically, if we want to attract businesses downtown, we need the foot traffic to support them, and those pedestrians that don’t live in the downtown area will need a place to park.

A mass transit system would help. Developing a bike / pedestrian culture in town would help. But limited parking in the Dickson St. area was said to be a factor in the Walton Arts Center’s recent exploration of the possibility of moving to one of our neighbors to the North, and in general, issues with parking will be something that we’ll have to deal with likely sooner than later.

What do you guys think? Is parking downtown an issue? Will it become an issue? Are we spoiled living in a place where for the most part, you can park in the front door of wherever it is you’re going?

[Photo by drtran via Flickr and Creative Commons 2.0]