Make Your Voice Heard. Show Your Support for the Parking Garage Monday!
One final step remains until the development of Portsmouth’s second parking garage at Foundry Place can begin. On Monday night, August 7th, the Portsmouth City Council will vote on the last hurdle to move forward with the garage: a request to authorize $3 million additional funds to cover added construction costs and complete the project as planned in 2018. If you wish to support the city finalizing this last stepping-stone and progress with development of the garage, we encourage you to attend Monday’s meeting and urge the Council to vote to approve this.
Where does the need for another $3 million stem from? In May of 2015, the City Council approved a $23.2 million price for the garage project at a time when various evaluations, such as environmental work, had not yet been completed. Following this approval to proceed on the project, city staff and consultants conducted numerous studies and strategic planning, which led to the expansion of original project plans. As a result, the expansion of the project coupled with inflated construction costs have resulted in the city needing about $3 million more than anticipated. These construction costs have significantly escalated since 2015, having increased 10-13% since that time. The city has also expanded the scope of utility work, most significantly water and electrical systems, to provide improved water and electrical service into both the surrounding McDonough Street neighborhood and the North End. Finally, there will be the construction of over 800 feet of new roadway, Foundry Place Roadway, to improve pedestrian access and add community space.
We understand that the price tag of this project may seem alarming. However, its monetary value aligns with past garage plans that were considered previously and of a smaller scale. This has been a unique opportunity for the city to capitalize on a particular project and address greater needs of nearby neighborhoods. Another key value to taxpayers with this project is that the parking users will continue to support the Parking Fund, where all debt service repayments for the new parking garage at Foundry Place will come out of, leaving the General Fund and property taxes untouched. In short, at our current demand levels for parking in Portsmouth, the revenue going into the Parking Fund means that this project will pay for itself.
By adding new roadways and upgraded utilities to this area during garage construction, there will be improved function and reliability within the area, and the city will not have to revisit the area and suffer larger costs in the future. This area will serve as a key link in forming a more interconnected system of businesses, arts, housing and more throughout Portsmouth. Increased parking space (due to both the new garage and added on-street parking) will reduce traffic, carbon dioxide emissions and pedestrian dangers – addressing the overall scope of residents’ quality of life.
With Council approval on the bond, site work such as fencing and demolition can begin, leaving the city 15-16 months away from having the 600-space parking garage. While a second garage will bring needed support to both residents and visitors, it is important to note that this project has become more than just the construction of a garage, but an opportunity to bring much-needed aesthetic and cultural improvements to this area of Portsmouth.
We encourage you to make your voice heard this Monday and help support the Foundry Place parking garage initiative. We hope you join us at this pivotal City Council meeting and envision a truly better Portsmouth with us.
As always, thank you for your support.
Kim & Ania Rogers