East Grand Forks to add parking–on the Greenway

The city of East Grand Forks, MN is divided on whether to add parking. “Add parking,” you say, “why wouldn’t you want to add parking?” In this case, as reported by the Grand Forks Herald, the additional parking lot would add 32 stalls on the river side of the Boardwalk, a popular downtown collection of restaurants and bars. The problem is that the river side of the existing parking lot (as shown in the image below) is the Greenway, a park/wilderness area created as a buffer from the Red River after the devastating 1997 flood.

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Map centered on proposed parking lot site.

Obviously, many business owners and city council members are excited at the prospect of additional parking because it is (at face value) expected to bring even more people to downtown EGF. (I’ve personally experienced the lack of space on a busy night.)

The mayor said he supports the plan to add parking. He said it is the best thing for the city and he would vote for it with his tiebreaking vote if the city council was deadlocked. Mayor Stauss said his support for the plan is not influenced by his brother and son owning the Boardwalk building.

Some owners, however, are seeing the long-term consequences. 

Dave Homstad, the co-owner and general manager of the Blue Moose Bar & Grill, says he spent an extra $80,000 to $100,000 to build his exterior deck to a height high enough to provide a view of the river and the Greenway, and the new parking lot would block that view for his customers. “If they extend that parking lot out there it’s going to take away my view of the river,” he said

Additional parking is available across DeMers Avenue in the Cabela’s parking lot, in other lots and streets near downtown, and across the Red River in downtown Grand Forks, ND. Why another lot, and why here?