by Frank Sorise
Grand Ledge Gazette Staff Writer
In an effort to increase business and improve accessibility in downtown Grand Ledge, the Downtown Development Authority approved reconstructing and redesigning the parking lot and alley behind the west side of N. Bridge Street. Building a parking lot on the west side of Bridge Street has been part of DDA’s plans since 1994.
Downtown Grand Ledge has relatively little parking, and all parking is on the south side of Bridge Street. Grand Ledge Economic Development Coordinator Mark Sullivan explained the difficulties and frustrations the DDA had in moving forward with the construction of a new parking lot. “We always wanted to run the lot between Front and Main Streets, but one house was in the way, and it was difficult to obtain. Fortunately, the house came on the market during our planning period, so we purchased that house and had it demolished,” said Sullivan.
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Sullivan also said that the DDA is doing its best to provide the downtown with ample parking and an attractive landscape. “The DDA is doing all it can to provide a good place to shop. Nice streetscapes, ample and good quality parking, a safe environment and good traffic flow,” Sullivan said.
This project encountered little resistance from residents, apparently since many were eager to have increased parking in the downtown area. The only factor that raised a few eyebrows was the price. Sullivan explained, “The total cost for the parking lot is about $2.0 million. The construction, cost about $1.5 million, $150,000 engineering costs, and the rest in property purchase and demolition.”
Mary Stephenson, a long time Grand Ledge resident, said she was “quite excited” to have somewhere to park on the west side of Bridge Street. But she also stated that the project seemed “a bit pricey.”
Downtown business owner Sean O’Connor, also a Grand Ledge resident, said that he had no complaints with any city project that would help increase the accessibility to his business Grand Ledge Cycles.
Even though the project was a long time coming, and involved a few obstacles, Mark Sullivan believes “that in the end, I think it will be worth it.”