Parking Madness 2015: Tampa vs. Waterville, Maine

So far in round one of this year’s Parking Madness tourney, the parking crater in downtown Newport News, Virginia, knocked off the surface parking right by L.A.’s North Hollywood metro station, and the parking-scarred waterfront of Camden, New Jersey, beat out downtown Mobile and its carpet of parking lots.

Today’s matchup pits sunny Tampa, Florida, against little Waterville, Maine. The scale of the damage may be different, but both cities have committed mortal sins against their urban areas that require some explaining.

Tampa

original-9

This entry comes to us via Joshua Redman, who writes:

This area is adjacent to both the Tampa Bay Times Forum (where the Lightning play) and the middle of downtown. Aside from the sea of designated parking lots, the empty lots in the bottom left of the picture are used as overflow parking during games. There is almost NO lighting and sidewalks.

Outside the picture to the left is Harbour Island, an island with million dollar condos and a beautiful riverwalk. Outside the picture at the bottom is the Channelside district, a new district of mixed use condos and retail, very walkable. And to the top and right is the central business district. This crater separates the three areas and is a pedestrian wasteland.

Sounds like Tampa really deserves some public shaming for this crime against urbanity. Here’s the straight shot of all the highway- and stadium-inflicted damage:

tampa_crater

Now meet the competition…

Waterville, Maine

waterville_crater

This entry was submitted by Bill Basford, who explains:

This parking crater is in the heart of Waterville, Maine, and it is called “The Concourse,” apparently in an attempt to gloss over the damage to the city. Waterville is a small city with a population of only 15,800 for the city itself, and perhaps 40,000 for the greater Waterville area. This crater has over 600 parking spaces, not counting those along adjacent streets, on roughly 6 acres of land, including the access roads. This crater dates from about 1970, when Urban Removal came to Waterville, which means the economic damage from this crater has continued for about 45 years.

What makes this parking crater so special? I see at least five problems with this parking crater. First, not only is this crater unusually large for a small city, it is located in the heart of the city, on what should be the most valuable land in the whole Waterville area. Second, this crater is entirely city owned, which means the city receives no tax revenue from this valuable land, and other taxpayers have to make up the difference. Third, because it is all free parking, including the area designated for all-day parking, the city collects no parking revenue from this crater. Fourth, because it is city owned, and in Maine, where we have long, cold, snowy winters, the city pays the entire cost of snow removal each winter. And fifth, here in Maine, where most of a city’s revenue comes from property taxes, much of the cost for snow removal and other expenses, including lighting, falls on homeowners, including those who own cars but rarely use this parking crater, and a significant number of low-income people who don’t even own cars.

waterville_crater_straight

What say you, readers — can Waterville make up for its size disadvantage with those epic policy blunders? Vote below.

Which city has the worst parking crater?

  • Tampa (59%, 133 Votes)
  • Waterville (42%, 95 Votes)

Total Voters: 227

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parking_madness_2015

  • 94110

    I’ve been pretty disinterested in this contest after the first year, because nothing has changed. Waterville is the only one I’ve seen so far this year worth voting for.

    Maybe next year the contest could be for “Most Improved” from the previous contestants?

  • Bicycle_Boy

    When voting on the Waterville vs Tampa matchup, please keep in mind that Tampa has OVER TWENTY TIMES the population of Waterville, so their parking craters would have to be twenty times the size of Waterville’s in order to be as impressive. Also, we are not told how much of Tampa’s crater might be privately owned, and thus paying some property tax revenue to the city, and not burdening the city with lighting and other maintenance costs.

  • Guest

    For a historical comparison regarding the Waterville crater, please see historicaerials.com and compare to the 1956, pre-renewal photograph. The target area, known as “downstreet”, was a healthy mix of commercial and residential properties. The renewal project also disrupted downtown’s street grid.

    If you look closely about 200 yds south of the current crater, you also might notice what was once a baseball field in Waterville’s poorest neighborhood has been transformed into a beautiful parking lot for a now-closed KFC, adjacent to a now-closed textile factory.

  • This is a close one, but at least Waterville provides sidewalks and crosswalks. That sways me towards Tampa.

  • Marc Dreyfuss

    The Waterville one looks like it’s sort of behind some of the stores, relatively well used, and very close-up. Good? No, but look a little further out and you’d notice this seems to be the central parking lot for all of downtown.

    Tampa wins (loses?) this one. No contest.

  • Kevin Thurman

    I completely get the points on Waterville and even though live in Tampa bike through this monstrosity and deal with its consequences. 36 acres of that site just got brought by the hockey team owner and he just hired Jeff Speck among others to complete the grid and change it. So hopefully it won’t need the attention Waterville might need.

    But hey maybe Tampa can win most improved in a half dozen years.

  • Vinstar

    The parking craters in all these Parking Madness cities are ugly for sure, but the stuff I’m seeing in between (the craters) doesn’t look much better and isn’t much of an improvement.

  • Tampa.

  • Justin W

    This is definitely a wasteland area of Tampa and the biggest eyesore. But there are big redevelopment plans in store by the Lightning’s owner (previously mentioned) and a newly completed Greenway under the Selmon Crosstown EXPWY (in picture) that provides a huge path through all of this pavement that they ACTUALLY REMOVED PARKING SPACES for, although programming is still being worked out. A big deal in a car crazed place with a not-so-great record for ped/bike safety. Also, the Tampa Riverwalk is about to complete a huge segment that will cross under SR 60. As of next week the Greenway, New Riverwalk Segment, and the first on-street protected bike lanes in Tampa will be complete. A transformation, now to just get that ocean of surface parking out of there. Oh, and Tampa just got bike share last fall.

  • Justin W

    *on-street buffered, not protected

  • Patrick

    As a Waterville resident, this crater actually makes downtown function much better. The area becomes a bit sketchy overnight, but it’s also home to our farmers market, and random cultural events. Also, parking isn’t really a problem in Waterville mostly because of this.

  • Guest

    Having 1,000 more people living downtown and properly utilizing on-street parking would serve downtown better than eight acres of parking.

  • Patrick

    Maybe if Waterville expanded, but right now I think the vast assortment of empty buildings around the area should be filled first, don’t you think?

  • JacobEPeters

    I actually will try to agree with both of you. It is clear from aerial photographs that the most used parking spots are the ones closest to Main, but much of the rest of the parking is underutilized. Relocate the strip mall businesses to new street fronts on Main/Appleton, and redevelop the outer edges of the property along Spring and Elm into housing, while maintaining the interior parking reservoir that seems to be serving a transit-less town fairly well by acting as a shared parking asset for all of the other businesses.

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