BIGGER PICTURE - METERS A parking meter shows an expired sign on State Street in Appleton on Tuesday, December 18, 2007.Appleton parking enforcement employee Susan Immekus (not pictured), who calls herself the Parking Meter Goddess, has been doing the job for 18 years. Post-Crescent photo by Mike De Sisti
Each Wednesday afternoon, we post online a draft version of the next Sunday's editorial. We want to know what you think! Leave us your feedback in a comment on this story, on our Facebook page, via Twitter by tweeting to @WDHOpinions or by emailing email@example.com.
We'll incorporate reader feedback into the final version of the editorial, and on Sunday we'll publish selections of the responses on the topic. Please share your thoughts by the end of the day Thursday.
Find the draft of our Sunday editorial below. We'll look forward to reading your reactions.
Parking enforcement helps downtown succeed
It's never any fun to get a parking ticket. But contrary to what might be intuitive, parking enforcement is an important part of keeping downtown areas vibrant, and building a bunch of new parking places can actually hurt matters.
The whole reason to have a downtown is that having a relatively densely packed, mixed-use area benefits all sorts of different businesses. Retail stores benefit from being close to restaurants, which benefit from being located where workers are taking their lunch breaks, and so on.
For a downtown, parking lots are dead zones. They take up a lot of space without "giving back" in the form of significant economic or cultural activity.
Obviously you need places for people to park downtown. Wausau has plenty, like the ramps at Wausau Center Mall and Jefferson Street.
A review by Daily Herald Media recently found that Wausau police issued 9,000 tickets in 2012, most of them at metered stalls downtown.
That's great. If anything, perhaps it should be more.
Local businesses need high turnover rates in those parking places. Higher turnover of existing parking places allows downtown to accommodate more activity without dedicating a bunch of dead space to parking garages.
The amount of available parking is simply not a problem in downtown Wausau. There's plenty of it. And despite the grumbling that any of us may do upon finding a ticket on our windshield, strong parking enforcement does not make downtown worse. It makes it better.