The Auburn City Council last week was asked to approve an amendment — and an additional $156,000 — to the city's 2017 road program so that work could begin on enlarging the city parking lot on Court Street. The problem was that the scope of the project took some people by surprise, particularly homeowners whose land abuts the area near the lot.
The council did the right thing in putting off a vote for two weeks, and now city officials need to make sure that the overall plan for the parking lot is being effectively communicated with the public and that every effort will be made to avoid negative impacts on the neighborhood.
It was no secret that the city was considering expanding the Court Street lot. The idea came about as part of the larger plan for a new downtown visitor center that is going to eliminate some public parking spots nearby. But approval of the plan shouldn't have been tucked into a resolution regarding work orders for roads and sidewalks.
The parking lot would be enlarged by expanding into what is now a grassy area next to Pomeroy Park, where city crews recently removed dozens of shrubs and trees. But while the city said that the brush and tree clearing was an unrelated effort to deter "less-than-ideal activities" taking place at the park, laying down blacktop will be a noticeable change, as well.
In the end, expanding this parking lot might be the right thing to do, given the need for more parking in that part of the city, but we're glad that the council put off making a decision so that more thought can be put into the impacts that construction might have.
The Citizen editorial board includes publisher Rob Forcey, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.