The Spokane parks department has helped NorthTown Mall free up 300 parking spaces for holiday shoppers by allowing mall workers to park in lots at Franklin Park.
The city approved the agreement to help ease the problem of mall employees parking their cars and creating more congestion in neighborhoods near NorthTown.
But Howard DuHaime, who lives across the street from the Franklin Park, said what the city has done is transfer traffic from one neighborhood to another.
“It seems to me that they’re kind of inconsiderate,” DuHaime said. “There are people who drive over here to exercise and walk their animals who are turned away because they can’t find a place to park.”
DuHaime said parking isn’t a personal concern of his. He said he was speaking out for potential park users he’s seen turned away.
“It was my understanding that only one lot would be used, but it turns out they’ve got all three,” DuHaime said.
Ange J. Taylor, director of the parks department, said no one in the city thought the park would be used during the holidays.
“This time of year we don’t have a lot of use at the park because of snow and bad weather,” Taylor said. “When they approached us we thought, ‘Great, now we can have someone else shovel snow for us.”’
Under the agreement with the city, NorthTown Mall employees can park their cars at one of the three Franklin Park lots and catch a shuttle to work. At the end of the workday, they are shuttled back to their cars.
Mall employees can use the Franklin Park lot on weekends and during the week of Christmas.
Taylor said the parks department will leave park users some parking spaces.
Sherry Burton, the mall’s director of marketing, said the extra 300 parking spaces means an extra 2,400 vehicles can be parked during one business day.
“That’s a pretty substantial number of shoppers,” Burton said. The mall has between 4,500 and 5,000 parking spaces.
“We’ve worked with the city with the hope of reducing congestion in the neighborhoods and at some of the main intersections along Division,” Burton said. “The last thing we wanted to do was get in anyone else’s way.”
Under terms of the lease with the city, NorthTown Mall must provide security for the lots and is responsible for any cleaning or maintenance of them, Burton said.
Said Taylor: “We called ourselves trying to be a good neighbor,” adding that the city isn’t charging a cost to the mall for parking. “But I hope we haven’t created a bigger problem by trying to fix another.”
The agreement is scheduled to only last for the current holiday season.
“We’re certainly going to monitor it,” Taylor said. “There could be some adjustments if the public is turned away.”