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Ryan Seacrest, Gatsby and parking in downtown New Bedford

It’s at once a subject that can seem vanilla and boring – but ironically also provokes passion in people.

No – it’s not speculation about Ryan Seacrest’s love life.

It’s parking.

Specifically, parking in downtown New Bedford.

There’s a new survey out that you can take online (here) that wants to know what you think about parking in downtown New Bedford. And I’m sure it’s probably one of the last things you think of doing when you hop on your laptop.

However, remember that we’re Americans. Which means at some point nearly all of us have, allow me a moment, lost our shit when it comes time to park the car.

As Americans, we spend an extraordinary amount of money on gyms, wellness programs, proper nutrition and supplements, or, when all else fails, a library’s worth of books dedicated to subjects like the South Beach Diet. All designed to help keep us fit.

Ask many of us to walk three blocks to a parking garage and we go into meltdown, though. Or, if some of us can’t find a spot right in front of our favorite city eatery, that place immediately earns the sobriquet, “It’s great – but parking is difficult.” Forgetting that extra block buys us permission to have dessert.

Anyway, as to downtown New Bedford, this writer personally believes that there is absolutely no parking problem. I can honestly say, I’ve never had a problem finding parking downtown. It’s got plenty of street parking and two – count ‘em, two – parking garages.

In fact, the Elm Street parking garage is looking particularly fetching these days. Arriving into New Bedford via the New Bedford-Fairhaven Bridge in the evening, you see it bathed in a soft blue light that recalls this line from F. Scott Fitzgerald: “The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.”

(I know I am really begging the readers indulgence with this blog post. Allow me the slack. Parking is about as sexy a subject as the aforementioned Mr. Seacrest.)

Blue lights and The Great Gatsby aside, some of my fellow Americans do think a parking threat exists downtown – so I have to respect that. And, am duty-bound to report that to hunt down solutions to the problem, the City of New Bedford wants to hear from you via the survey and also at a public meeting this week.

On Tuesday, March 6, look for the “roving tent” on Purchase Street and around Custom House Square between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. It’s a place where you can offer your downtown improved parking suggestions in person, in a place that may be taking up valuable parking spaces during the crucial, high traffic downtown lunch rush.

Or, attend the evening workshop on parking at the Star Store CVPA Campus Gallery from 5:00-7:30 p.m.

I’d offer parking suggestions, but then you wouldn’t show up properly motivated.

Featured image aboveDetail from Francis Cugat’s 1925 book jacket painting for The Great Gatsby.

Steven Froias