Lakeside Commons Beach

Too Little Parking? It Does Happen, In Fact

Lakeside Commons Beach
I’ve written previously about the angst and mayhem surrounding the parking situation at Blaine’s Lakeside Commons Park. To recap the history of this park and its parking situation:

  • Lakeside Commons Park was opened in 2010 and built using standard set-aside land and monies from housing development in Blaine.
  • The park has many features and amenities, including a large rentable pavilion for family reunions and large-scale festivities, a boat launch, running paths, beach and splash pad. A triathlon is held there annually. In brief, it acts more as a regional park than a “city” amenity.
  • The park was built with 72 permanent parking stalls — fewer than advised for similar parks, for which a minimum of 200 spaces would be suggested.
  • Permits, overflow parking and other approaches have been used to address the fact that inadequate parking was built, especially given the park’s location in the city it formally serves — and the fact that 35% of park users are not city residents.

Lakeside Park Parking

Well, welcome to 2013. In prior years, the city of Blaine implemented permit-based and pay parking, and waived city ordinances to allow parking on unpaved surfaces/grassy lots. This year, parking at Lakeside Commons will be wholly restricted to the 72-spot parking area, with no grassy parking available because the field previously in use as overflow is being used for development — its original intended use. Permits will still be required to park in those 72 stalls, with permits free for city residents, and $5/day, or $25/season for non-residents.

But wait! The city is encouraging on-street parking in the surrounding neighborhoods, and has been so kind as to provide a map of where people can park in the neighborhood. The neighbors, who have previously complained about the noise, influx of traffic, and general chaos of the nice city park they live near turning into a regional destination, are undoubtedly going to be delighted. Plus, the on-street parking, while requiring people to actually walk a few blocks to access the beach, splash pad, and other amenities will be free, without any permitting requirement.

This is the inevitable result of inadequate planning. While parking is rarely an efficient use of space, it does have a purpose — especially in a space that can accommodate large groups, large events, and large numbers of people, with the amenities to make those people all wish to be accommodated. But the parking fails to accommodate. Even with an improvement of access to the area with bicycle-friendly amenities, better road crossings of Radisson Road, 72 stalls was nowhere near realistic. The picnic shelter alone accommodates groups of 150!

The city of Blaine rarely puts in place policies or infrastructure that actively encourages non-motorized transport. In this instance, they’ve also made their preferred mode of transport awkward at best, and the likely source of considerable neighborhood howling. And this year, they won’t even get the revenue offset to pay for the added policing required of this parking scenario.

Sometimes, parking is a necessary evil. Because the result of not having it? Worse.

Update, May 20: The city of Blaine has managed to negotiate use of a giant vacant lot near the park for overflow parking. There is a crosswalk between the lot and the park entrance. I’m going to assume the city rule about parking lots has been dealt with again, seeing as city ordinance forbids using vacant lots as parking save for Senior PGA tournaments.

About Julie Kosbab

Julie Kosbab is an online marketing consultant and active transportation advocate living in Anoka County, Minnesota. She was one of Minnesota's only League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructors when certified in 2005, and is no longer lonely in that calling. A past member of the National Bicycle Tour Directors Association, she has 2 children and a garage full of bicycles. Find her on Twitter as @betweenstations, or read her (seldom updated) blog at Ride Boldly!