Appointee to oversee parking project Mayor fills new post with city employee

July 24, 1998|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

In an attempt to untangle downtown parking woes, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke named a city employee yesterday to the newly created position of parking coordinator.

The appointment of Michael Rice, a Department of Public Works employee who heads the city's Parking Division, was announced yesterday at Schmoke's weekly news conference.

Rice was one of nine candidates in a three-month nationwide search conducted by the city in conjunction with the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore Inc.

He will coordinate creating a comprehensive plan for downtown parking in addition to exploring ways to create new parking space with government and private business money, Schmoke said.

"I continue to hear concerns about parking from employees, the tourist attractions and business people," Schmoke said.

A report conducted last year by downtown businesses showed that the city would need 3,600 parking spaces for its immediate future. And many of the downtown spaces aren't within 10 minutes' walking time for employees, Schmoke said.

Downtown business owners view parking as crucial to their viability, said Downtown Partnership President Laurie Schwartz.

In addition to filling the parking coordinator post, Schmoke announced plans to create a parking task force that will include business owners.

"Involving the private sector in parking issues is very important," Schwartz said. "I commend the mayor."

Rice was out of town on business yesterday and could not be reached for comment.

Schmoke said a candidate from San Antonio was offered the position but declined.

Rice's experience managing the city's parking division, Schmoke said, played a key role in his hiring. "We just thought he was the right guy at this time," Schmoke said.

Pub Date: 7/24/98

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