Reading about the new parking garage proposal for Lincoln Street prompted my own views on how to accomplish two goals for the area and save the city millions of dollars.
The new parking garage, with retail space and 375 parking spaces would cost $8.5 million.
I was impressed with the frugality, even if it isn’t city officials’ money, but the underlying question is one of ownership. Will it be paid for from profits from the retail space or will the city be burdened with the upfront cost and then transfer ownership to the developer?
Currently, the city pays to heat and maintain Bates Mill  No. 5. Ideas have circulated down through the years, from imploding the building by a movie studio, filling in the canal with the debris for more green space, or removing the building at taxpayers’ expense, to be sold to a developer for pennies on the dollar.
My idea — turn Mill No. 5 into a large parking garage. The building was constructed to hold massive machinery so it should be able to handle the weight. Remove some walls for the air to circulate; create the 1,162 parking spaces required by 2011, even if in stages. That would create space for the Balloon and Liberty festivals, solve parking for years to come, create revenue for the city, eliminate the heating cost, removal cost and new garage cost.
It could even have a courtyard and green space on top.
Let’s not waste more taxpayer money. (What a concept.)
Michael Ouellette, Auburn


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