Dear editor,

For the most part I have been publically silent about the various proposed parking plans for the immediate downtown, most of it affecting the Main Street district.

I have been in management most of my life and was expected to fix what was broken first before launching any new plan or project. I have offered this same advice to city council. Fix the Midtown and Big Blue parking problems first.

The Midtown lot costs thousands in lost revenues due to equipment failures and even more expense for the dozens of times the police are called out to help the stranded, plus ongoing repair costs. Fix it first!

Big Blue has never realized its potential, losing thousands a year. A lower rate yielding a higher occupancy would boost revenues by a minimum of $20,000. Fixing spaces which drip rust onto vehicles would also increase occupancy and revenue. Fix it first!

Once the city addresses these two parking areas which greatly contribute to the parking fund deficit, we could then consider additional changes to the parking plans. However, $2 an hour parking fees or anything near such a rate is a non-starter.

Small businesses from the Midwest to Maine had a nearly catastrophic start to the year. Brutally cold weather kept people home and their expendable income was diverted to huge heating bills. All businesses suffered, but none more than small business. Turn a small business upside down for two months and it becomes darn difficult to right it again. Needless to say there were huge small business failures.

Couple national economic issues with a downtown Warren business environment which is fragile and concerning at best, it wouldn’t take too much more to bring about a total collapse. Retail and dining establishments need other retail and dining to survive. If we lose any more downtown businesses, we all might just as well lock our doors.

Our city council is well balanced and too has been their approach to business on behalf of the taxpayers. I expect no less when it comes to any parking plan.

Dan Ristau

President Main Street