Published On: Wed, Jul 22nd, 2015

Planning Board discusses parking garage options

 

By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.

ONE FEATHER STAFF

 

Finding parking in the cultural district of Cherokee can be a challenge, especially in the summer months.  During its regular monthly meeting on Monday, July 20, the EBCI Planning Board discussed several options for the construction of a parking garage in the area.

Damon Lambert, EBCI Building Construction  manager, gave a brief presentation of a parking garage study completed by LTArchitecture and 50 Walker Parking Consultants.

“There has been a lot of discussion about parking in this area,” said Lambert.  “It gets very crowded during the Fall Festival or other events that we may have.”

Lambert added, “We looked at the site directly beside the Museum.  The numbers in this study would theoretically apply to any site because property costs are not a factor.  The costs in there are just construction costs.”

He said initial discussions were held on the parking lot area behind the Cherokee Post Office.  “There are three leases on that lot so we ruled that out.  The Tribe doesn’t have control of that just yet.”

The study gives two options for a parking garage.  Option one would be a two-bay, continuous ramp that would provide 343 spaces on five tiers with a parking area of 120,817 square feet at a cost of $5.2 million.  Option two would involve all parking on a flat surface with 406 spaces on five tiers with a parking area of 160,196 square feet at a cost of $6.9 million.  Option one works out to $15,290 per space and option two would cost $17,087 per space.

Lambert said both options could be modified as to height and number of floors and spaces.

“It is definitely needed,” said Albert Crowe, EBCI Deputy Administrative Officer.  “Everybody knows that there is no space.”

It was decided that more discussion would be held on the subject at a future Planning Board meeting.

The future usage for the Boundary Tree property was also discussed during the meeting.

Painttown Rep. Tommye Saunooke said, “It’s probably one of the most valuable pieces of commercial property on the Boundary, and I just didn’t want to see a program go into it and make another office.  We need to develop it so we can generate some revenue.”

Several questions were raised about the time frame for the New Kituwah Academy to move from the Boundary Tree site to the site of the current Acquoni Expo Center and whether the New Kituwah area should be included in future development plans.

“We just want to make sure we have the scope of work correct and we use our time wisely,” Doug Cole, strategic planner with the EBCI Commerce Division.

It was decided that Cole would bring a plan back to Planning Board at a future date including all of the Boundary Tree property.

Cole also gave a brief update on the status of the Bowling Center that, if fully approved, will be built at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort.  He said EBCI Planning staff attended the Big Y Community Club meeting recently and gave a report on the Center and will be attending more community club meetings in the coming weeks.

Planning Board also discussed expansion of the Shawn Blanton Emergency Operations Center.  “With IT taking over Cherokee Broadband and some other initiatives, they’re going to be expanding their staff by quite a few people, so we helped them look at options for their property,” said Lambert.  “The entire EOC property is pretty much entirely utilized from Stacy Saunooke Road to the property line by the parking lot.”

Lambert added, “The Tribe does own all of the property to the right of the EOC if you’re going back up towards the intersection. So, we looked at two or three different options.  We looked at leaving Stacy Saunooke Road where it was and building a separate structure on the other side of the road, but I think the preferred option would be to connect into the existing EOC.  That way we could elevate our stairwells and save a little bit of money in the construction of the building and just shift the road.”

Lambert said he spoke with Josh Parker at CDOT who related that there were plans to rework the road anyways due to its current condition.  It was decided that a plan would be developed and brought back to Planning Board for future review.

The next scheduled Planning Board meeting is set for Monday, Aug. 17 at 1pm in the Tribal Council Chambers.

 

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