“What I proposed when we saw the original plan, when we saw the parking deck wrapped around the library, is to move the parking away from the library,” she said.
Gist said she was dissatisfied with the original parking plan because it limited the library’s design. She said she feared that construction would especially limit parking availability.
“What I was hearing from our local business was, ‘We can’t have no parking for a year,’" Gist said. “The thing I’m really committed to is that our local businesses and the people who go aren’t hurt.”
Open Eye Cafe Owner Scott Conary said he was not worried about the finished library’s effect on his business, but he was concerned about issues during construction.
“From what I’ve heard of the plan so far is they would replace the number of spots at the end of construction, which would be fine for us," he said.
Conary said he was most concerned that construction would mean water pipes he needs for his business would have to be turned off when builders are at work.
"We just want to make sure our equipment is protected and that we don’t go out of business or have to shut down,” he said.
Glasshalfull co-owner Jim Wald said he thought the current plan’s end result would be best for his business.
“I think short term, while they’re building it, it’s definitely a negative, it’s probably going to take a couple years to do," he said. “But I think once it’s open, and you’ve got the ArtsCenter there with the library, and people are actually coming right to this spot, I think it would be positive.”
Wald also argued against creating additional lots distant from the library and surrounding businesses.
“There already are municipal lots elsewhere that stay vacant all the time. People want parking where they’re going, so I think putting the parking garage with the library makes the most sense,” Wald said.
Alderman Gist said she hopes a decision will come by the end of the year, but it will take time for a plan to pass through all the required committees and individuals who have a say.
“We always want to be sure we’re not doing what we want to do, but what the community wants us to do," she said.