Melissa Bean Sterzick
In the middle of my town is a civic center that includes a library, municipal pool, police headquarters, county courthouse, theater, meeting facilities, and offices for city officials and employees. My family spends a lot of time in this complex – swimming, checking-out books, attending cultural festivals, watching plays and performing in concerts.
We also go there to sign up for parks and recreation classes, schedule our street’s block party and, for the adults in the house, fulfill our jury duty obligations.
Parking at the civic center can be hairy. Most parking spaces are clustered in the middle of the complex, which means that, depending on the day, we might be there to visit the library, but find parking only near the theater. Or we might be there to go to the theater, and find parking only near the pool. Either way, it’s a long walk from one corner to the other – probably somewhere between a quarter and half a mile.
I don’t mind walking, but I don’t like walking through a parking lot that big, especially with my children. There’s a lot of room for drivers to speed, and everyone’s going to a different place, so traffic flow is unpredictable. A large chunk of the lot, most of it close to buildings, is dedicated to staff; and there’s a row of 1-hour parking along the main entrances, but it’s usually full.
Though the parking situation is not quite ideal, we enjoy all the amenities that our civic center has to offer, except, of course, the jury duty.
Last month, I noticed new electric vehicle charging stations in the parking lot of the civic center – five charging stations in prime parking real estate near the pool and library. What looked like a cluster of empty spots conveniently waiting for me to come along turned out to be off-limits for my gas-powered car.
I was frustrated and annoyed. My next impression was disbelief, because the conversations about whether or not these stations should be installed happened so long ago. These are EV charging stations that our city committed to putting in place five years ago, when support for meeting the “need” for publicly-provided electric vehicle charging stations was on trend.
From everything I’ve read recently, EV charging stations are expensive, underused and overwhelmingly resented.
I don’t care much about these charging stations, even though I think they are a waste of money and space. I support the concept of fuel economy and want the environment protected so my grandchildren have oxygen.
But I think electric cars are not going to do the trick, because even if they don’t use as much gas, they still create pollution. Fewer cars and fewer miles driven will be ways to address climate change – if we don’t wait too long.
As for the charging stations, I just think people are not depleting the batteries in their electric cars by driving long distances to our civic center. And I highly doubt that anyone’s hanging out in the area long enough to plug in a vehicle.
I guess if I had an electric vehicle, I’d take the free electricity, but only for the convenient parking. Truthfully, I rarely see anybody parked in these spots.
There is some buzz about these charging stations on a city Facebook page of which I am a member, and none of it is positive. This is a Facebook page populated by city council hopefuls, reputable citizens, trolls, resident stalkers like me, and some really obnoxious hacks.
Some members lump the charging stations in with other ill-advised ways our city leaders spend our tax money; others decry the general misguided heavy-handedness of environmental regulations; and a few, specifically the trolls and hacks, wax verbose on the conspiracies brought down upon our heads by politicians, the upper class and big business.
Now, I don’t get worked up about these things because (1) Life is too short; (2) I read parts of “The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment” by Eckhart Tolle, and even though it’s super cheesy and causes lots of people to go around talking about “the now” – thereby violating some rather important rules of grammar and sounding completely foolish at the same time – I recognize the value of not fixating on externals (or internals, for that matter); and (3) There’s absolutely nothing I can do about it.
If I saw these EV charging stations in use all the time, or even if they were positioned in less desirable locations, I’d have nothing to say. Unfortunately, they’re empty, and they’re right in front of our faces every time we want to swim or check out a book or gamble on community theater.
Melissa Bean Sterzick is Parking Today’s proofreader,
occasional writer and amateur parker. She can be reached at Melissa@parkingtoday.com.