Resident says downtown property used by motorists for 25 years
Landowner Robert Yetman is shown alongside his property on the corner of Springdale and New Gower streets in downtown St. John’s. He wants to rent the space for parking, but because it is not paved, he says the City of St. John’s won’t permit him to use it for that purpose. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
A St. John’s resident thinks a piece of land that could accommodate 70 parked vehicles should be used for that purpose, and says the City of St. John’s is hindering his efforts to do so.
However, a spokeswoman for the city tells The Telegram that Brian Walsh has not taken the necessary steps to do so.
The property, located at 43 Springdale St. intersecting New Gower Street, is owned by Manga Hotels but was leased last November to Walsh in an agreement signed at that time, with the understanding he could rent interim parking spaces to motorists until Manga was ready to build on the site.
What about unpaved lot at Bowring Park?
“That parking lot has been there 25 years,” said Walsh. “We didn’t need a permit before when J.B. Hand had the building there (a vacant warehouse).”
According to the city, Walsh needs to pave the area and ensure controlled drainage is in place, as required under current development regulations.
The city spokeswoman said Walsh has not put an application in with the city, as he was required to by the owner of the property, in order to obtain the necessary permits.
She said the owner has since agreed to have the area fenced off so it can not be used for temporary parking.
Walsh, however, contends interim downtown parking, such as that which he is proposing on Springdale Street, does not require paving.
“People are calling me all the time from the Cabot Building and everywhere. They have no parking downtown, and they can’t understand why this is closed. I can’t either.”
The spokeswoman said the city is looking at drafting standards for interim parking lots on vacant land in the downtown area, adding those standards will include paving as a requirement. Establishing such standards is a recommendation of the Downtown St. John’s Parking Study, which has not been approved by council.
Details on proposed amendments to the city’s municipal plan and development regulations on parking in the downtown area were shared at a public meeting held May 8 at city hall.
Amendment 18 refers to establishing “applicable standards” for “interim parking lots” in downtown St. John’s, though it does not elaborate on what those standards would entail.
Since Manga will eventually build on the property, Walsh said it makes no sense for him to pave it.
“A building is going there in two years’ time, so they should never have shut down that lot until the building went there.”
He also wonders why he cannot operate an unpaved parking lot in downtown St. John’s when an unpaved parking lot is already used in Bowring Park.
An unpaved area across from the Gaze Seed gardening store on Buchanan Street was also blocked off at the city’s request, according to Walsh. That property is own by John Steele, according to Walsh and Gaze Seed owner Robert Yetman.
“Here it is, vacant land, and they can’t park on it,” said Yetman, who added the lot has been used for parking for at least 30 years.