A petition drive has been launched to try to convince Newport City Councilors to change their minds about spending a million dollars for a new parking lot just south of City Hall. It’s the site of the old Salvation Army Thrift Store and parking area – the Salvation Army building and other structures already having been torn down.
The city council has tentatively agreed to turn it into a large parking area so that when the new Newport Aquatic Center opens up this winter, there will be enough parking so that people don’t have to struggle to find a place to park. It would also ensure that employees and visitors to City Hall would have enough parking as well. Councilors also agreed that the parking lot could be a long-term home for the Newport Farmer’s Market which has been looking for a permanent location to set up Saturday mornings during the drier months of the year.
But those seeking petition signatures claim that the parking south of City Hall should be used as an expansive city park – a location for outdoor events – not just the farmer’s market but to beautify the downtown with trees, a performance stage for music festivals and concerts. Petition booster Esther Call says on their website that the downtown needs a facelift but that another parking lot isn’t the way to go. Call says there are two sizeable parking lots nearby that could fill the need while the area south of City Hall would better be served as a functional multi-use park for the downtown.
Meanwhile, city officials are still negotiating the city’s acquisition of the site. The issue will come back before the council fairly soon, since time appears to be of the essence according to city officials.
However, those who insist that the site become a feature park have created an online petition campaign. You can read it all there by simply clicking here.