We have all heard (or uttered) the phrase, ‘We have a parking problem’. 

Too much parking?  Not enough?  Not available in the right location?  I’ve heard those anecdotal phrases spoken in other cities and in reference to Downtown Freeport.  

So, it got me thinking.  Does Downtown Freeport have a parking problem?  Or, is this a perception issue? 

Let’s look at a scenario.  On an average weekday while shopping at Wal-Mart I might have a 425-foot walk from my car to the back of the store to get a gallon of milk.  Note this is without the ‘shopping meandering’ I often do.  (See picture below) 

Now, let’s say I have left Wal-Mart and I am meeting a friend for lunch at Mort’s.  It just happens there is  no available parking on Chicago Avenue between Main and Spring.  I proceed to travel around the block and find a space on Main Street, across from Amity’s Attic.  I have just walked the same 425 feet.  Granted, the parking space is NOT directly in front of the business I intend to patron, but does that constitute a ‘parking problem’?  No, it is a perception problem.  We perceive there isn’t enough parking because I can’t find a space directly in front of the business I want to visit.  

Now, let’s quantify parking in the downtown.  Currently, there are 600 off-street public parking spaces within an easy 5-min walk of the Chicago/Main St. intersection.   There are approximately 800 off-street parking spaces within a 10-min walk.  That is a lot of spaces and doesn’t include free on-street parking. 

Granted, there are ways we can improve.  First, if you are not familiar with Downtown Freeport you probably don’t know which surface parking lots ARE public.  We could do a better job of providing signage to tell drivers where they can park for free.  Also, out-of-town visitors are most likely using some sort of GPS mapping app for directions. Currently, GFP is working with Google Maps to get surface public parking lots to appear on their Downtown Freeport map.  Lastly, we all strive to provide our patrons with the best customer service experience.  If you work or own a business downtown don’t park in front of your business or place of work.   Leave the spot available for your customers (or your neighbor’s customers).  It’s the first step in providing great customer service.