Now that the Area 43 dust has settled and Millennial Media has renewed its lease and plans to expand, Cantonites who live in the former Area 43 are wondering what the city will do next to help alleviate Canton’s parking woes.
Mike Beczkowski, Canton’s former Area 43 representative to the Parking Authority, feels like Area 43 should have been left in place.
“Or at the very least, we should have had the chance to vote for or against it,” he says.
Beczkowski notes that he respects the businesses in the Can Company, but “feels betrayed and hurt that Councilman Kraft didn’t do enough to support his constituents who supported RPP [residential permit parking] in Canton.”
“The majority opinion here is that we were sold out,” Beczkowski says.
Councilman Kraft declined to comment for this story.
Mike Sarnecki, who lives on Luzerne Ave., says he knew the end of Area 43 was coming.
“Because the city was unsure of Area 43’s future, you did not have to pay to renew your permit in November. The city doesn’t give away something for nothing,” Sarnecki says.
Sarnecki had hoped Area 43 would be renewed or expanded, but not so much for his benefit: the retired fire fighter with two knee replacements admits he has had handicapped parking for the last two years.
“I have older neighbors who can’t walk to a parking space several blocks away. There are also couples with kids who are paying high property taxes and can’t find a place to park,” he says. “They are ready to move out because of parking problems.”
Raylene Wase, a longtime Canton resident who also lives on Luzerne Ave. and worked to bring Area 43 about, says she’s disgusted by its revocation.
“Those Area 43 signs went down as soon as that law was passed. I’ve never seen the city work so fast,” Wase says.
Beczkowski says he is also disappointed with the Can Company’s gesture to the community—making available parking spaces in the evening and all day on the weekends for $50 per month.
He thinks it’s impractical and hardly a solution.
“Most people don’t want to have to get their cars out of the garage by 7 a.m.,” he says.
Wase believes a large, affordable, public garage would be more of a remedy.
When she recently heard that the Mayor’s Office had met with Safeway corporate late last year to discuss Safeway making its lot available (for a fee) or possibly building a garage, she was hopeful, she says.
“I know people who would pay to park on the Safeway lot. It’s open. People would feel safer.That would be wonderful,” Wase says.
The Mayor’s Office did not reply to emails from the Guide regarding its recent discussion with Safeway.
Just prior to Area 43’s revocation, Millennial Media, the Can Company’s largest tenant, extended its lease until 2015. The company plans to not only stay in Baltimore for at least the next two years, but also expand its 45,000-square foot operation to existing space within the Can Company.
Parking is specifically addressed in the lease.
“The Can Company shall endeavor to accommodate [Millennial] parking needs, including those necessitated by any expansion,” the lease reads.
TaVida Rice, property manager of the Can Company, did not immediately return calls or emails as of press time.
by Danielle Sweeney