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<p>Letter to the Editor: Local journalism can help us learn and adapt</p><p></p>

Editor, The Beacon:

The City of DeLand has shown forward thinking recently by building a beautiful new fire station on West Howry Avenue. It was necessary to provide the needed services for a growing community, and I applaud you for doing so. Now what happens to the existing fire station on the corner of West Howry and South Florida avenues?, you might ask.

Well, in case you didn’t already know, they are going to tear it down so we can have a new parking lot! Here is where the city commissioners should possibly rethink this project:

While it is true that we need more parking in the Downtown area, here is an idea that needs some consideration … build a parking garage instead. With the location right next door to the Police Department, I would think people who park there would feel safe and secure.

You may be asking, “How can we afford to build it?” Let it pay for itself.

I recently had to visit the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, and there you have two choices: Either drive through parking lot after parking lot hoping that today is your lucky day when someone backs out of a space, or pay a $5 fee and park in the parking garage. Doesn’t matter if you are parking for 10 minutes or 10 hours, you pay $5 to get in. It saves a lot of time and aggravation. Here is why I feel we need to consider this:

1. Growth! With all the new residential areas that have been approved in and around our city, we need to start thinking like the larger city we are becoming. Have you tried to go Downtown recently during a special event or on a Friday night? If you don’t get there early, you wind up scouring the Downtown area looking for that elusive parking spot.

2. SunRail. With DeLand gearing up for the expansion of SunRail, there will be even more people who will discover the charm of DeLand and want to bring their friends for a night out. Do you really believe that folks coming out of the Orlando area will want to ride the rails to DeLand and then have to find a way to get Downtown?

3. Events. Parking should be available during events such as the numerous parades and special events, art festivals, Friday-night Artisan Alley, Voorhis Avenue events, Athens Theatre and many other events.

DeLand has so many good attributes that attract people from all walks of life. If you attempt to go somewhere and have to spend a large amount of time looking for a place to park, you will eventually give up and go home, or choose to stay home altogether and not go through the aggravation.

Come on, merchants and residents of West Volusia, let’s do a little “forward thinking” and tell the city commissioners to rethink another DeLand project before we are looking back and reflecting on why we didn’t ask if it is too late.

Mark Smith

DeLand

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