Bluefield, WVa, faces parking issue as Intuit brings jobs
BLUEFIELD, W.Va. (AP) — Bluefield has a “good problem to have” on its hands, and the city is busy trying to solve it.
“We now have a parking problem downtown that we are working on,” City Manager Dane Rideout told members of the board of directors Tuesday. “We are looking for every flat spot.”
Rideout said parking is an issue now because of the high tech company Intuit coming to downtown, bringing with it 200 to an eventual 500 jobs.
The international company, which is based in California and provides online products like TurboTax and QuickBooks, made the announcement last month and will move into the Summit Bank building on Federal Street.
But with that number of employees, plus existing businesses, more people visiting downtown and possibly more businesses opening up, all that good news means 750 parking spaces are needed in the near future.
Rideout said one of those “flat spots” is the grassy area on Princeton Avenue, which means the dog park will have to be moved to make room for more parking spaces.
The location of the dog park was always meant to be temporary, he added, and that space will now be needed.
“We are also looking at traffic flow and direction of traffic,” he said.
That includes the possibility of creating more one-way streets to provide the needed space for diagonal parking, as it is now on Commerce Street, he said.
It could also mean converting what is now two-lane traffic to only one lane and use that extra lane for parking.
Rideout said other parking areas can be used, including the parking lots at the Bluefield Arts Center.
With a new transit station coming next year for BAT (Bluefield Area Transit), the current open-air shelter, located beside the dog park, will be gone and that will make more parking space available, he added.
The new transit facility will be built on Bluefield Avenue and provide an indoor waiting area with restrooms.
Rideout said a parking garage may also be considered at some point if needed.
At one time, Bluefield had two parking garages.
But both the Scott Street and Princeton Avenue parking garages were demolished in 2012.
The Scott Street garage was built in 1947 but was no longer used and had fallen into a state of deterioration that created a safety hazard.
Demolishing the four-story Princeton Avenue facility, which was built in the 1970s, was more controversial. The parking garage was being used as a site for a Saturday flea market, bringing people into the downtown area.
According to Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports, some residents criticized the board of directors at the time for not keeping and maintaining it.
Rideout also said another downtown project to demolish buildings in the middle of town and create a large green space and amphitheater is still in the works.
Buildings that are too dilapidated to save in the block surrounded by Bland, Federal, Raleigh and Scott streets present a “claustrophobic feeling” and are unsafe, he said when the plan was unveiled last year.
“We need a central location, a destination,” Rideout said. “We need greenspace, public bathrooms, a place for fairs and festivals, a place for people to take their kids and enjoy the outdoors.”
Rideout said the cost of renovating the old Wells Fargo and the J.C. Penney buildings, among others, outweigh their value and are in line for demolition.
Intuit officials were given the details of the plan and Rideout said they are on board with it.
“But the project takes time,” he said, adding that asbestos removal is one of the necessary steps to take.
Intuit will open a “prosperity hub,” which includes a customer success center and an innovation lab that will concentrate on entrepreneurship and small business growth.
Information from: Bluefield Daily Telegraph, http://www.bdtonline.com