The city’s plan to lease land on the north side of Front Street for a parking lot is a sound investment that will add much to the rebirth of that area in the downtown section and riverfront. It makes sense now and certainly for the future of the historic core of the city.
The city already leases land from Union Pacific Railroad along Front Street and the railroad tracks. With the new addition, the city will have about 83,000 square feet leased from the railroad. The city plans to have 75 parking spaces in the new parking lot. The annual lease calls for the city to pay $12,000 a year. It has been paying $7,000 annually for about 36,000 square feet. The grading, paving and striping for a parking lot, and related work, will cost the city around $150,000.
The development of the parking lot, from west of the old freight depot to a point west of Olive Street, will greatly enhance Front Street and the businesses located there. Washington is the destination for many one- and two-day tourists. The riverfront, along Front Street, is the main attraction, along with the businesses that are there, including the restaurants and shops. Many people visit the Rennick Riverfront Park and walk and bike the Rotary Trail, which adds to the traffic.
It took a long time for city government to recognize the potential of the riverfront. It’s true funds were limited for years.
After moving the city dump that was located where Rennick Riverfront Park was located, developments began slowly. The last 10 years have seen major investments and improvements along the riverfront and Front Street. There is the potential to do more. The Lions Club and Rotarians have pitched in to help in the improvements, along with others. Boating on the Missouri River draws many people. Passenger train traffic is a big plus.
The future is very bright for the historical core of the city, which began when settlers came by river to Washington. We need more parkland along the river. Something will have to be done to the Lafayette Street crossing at the railroad tracks since it’s heavy with traffic. Some day there may be an overhead crossway to the riverfront from Front Street. A barge port — maybe?
Back to the added parking. It’s a big asset to Front Street and the riverfront. The city will get many benefits from it, and it is needed by citizens of Washington as well as visitors. The city council recognized the benefits and acted accordingly.