Maybe in a few years robots will be parking cars in Canton.
It’s not too far-fetched, according to Wes Guckert, head of The Traffic Group, a traffic engineering and planning firm headquartered in Baltimore County. There’s already a robotic parking garage at the Palisades apartments in Towson.
“You pull into a parking bay, go to a kiosk, and then a robot comes under your car and moves it where it needs to go,” explained Guckert.
Robotic parking was one of several topics broached at a meeting set up last week by John Pica Jr., an attorney and former state representative and state senator who is seriously considering another run for the senate.
Originally, Pica had put forward the idea of a community benefits district—similar in model, but not necessarily scale, to the Downtown Partnership—for Canton and Fell’s Point. The central benefit, Pica said in an email sent to community leaders and businesses, could be a garage with a shuttle service taking residents to and from their homes.
Pica invited his friend Guckert to the meeting to discuss parking solutions. After first assuring the audience that his firm has no involvement in the Red Line, Guckert said that, in his experience, commuters have little interest in getting on another mode of transport—such as a shuttle bus—after getting out of their cars.
Guckert added that a traditional ramp-garage comes with some logistical problems, such as finding an available piece of land big enough and more-or-less centrally located.
Guckert suggested that newer technology such as “stacker” garages and robotic parking should be seriously considered.
“There are lots of opportunities to find parcels of land that you would not normally think of as right for parking,” he said, adding that a traditional ramp garage requires a footprint of at least 120 feet by 240 feet, while robotic parking garages need a much smaller footprint.
One garage in Hoboken, N.J., Guckert said, is 100 feet by 100 feet.
Pica said that the best way to get a parking garage in Canton would be to push the city to build one through the Parking Authority.
“You deserve it,” he said. “This is probably the fastest-growing area in Batlimore.”
The meeting then veered toward a political bent.
“We’re constantly told by the city that there is no buildable space, except [a property on Aliceanna St. near the Boston St. intersection], “ said Victor Corbin, president of the Fell’s Prospect Community Association.
“What needs to happen for us to have a stronger voice?” asked Teri McBirney Hicks, a Canton resident and president of the Canton Square Homeowners Association.
Pica said that Baltimore got crushed in the last state legislative session in Annapolis.
“I think you need more aggressive individuals representing you,” he said.
Pica represented District 43 in the House of Delegates from 1979-82. He was a senator for the same district from 1983-1996.
He said that the next step for Canton parking would be to find a nonprofit willing to do a traffic and parking study of the neighborhood.
by Erik Zygmont