What would Matt Dillon Say?


What would Matt Dillon Say?

I wonder if Marshall Dillon was tasked with enforcing any parking regulations in Dodge City. Somehow I doubt it. However, the city will begin this month enforcing its downtown parking regulations.

Seems that the local businesses are concerned that people don’t have enough parking so they aren’t coming downtown in droves. Enforcement of the two hour limit will enable "turnover" and therefore more parking for patrons of local businesses.

In addition, the city is looking to purchase a bit of local property and build a lot or garage. You can read all about it in the Dodge City Daily Globe here.

I’m not certain  whether or not there were parking regulations in the 1870’s and 80’s in Dodge when Matt, Kitty, Doc, Chester and Festus ran the place. You couldn’t just leave your horse anywhere. Or park your wagon blocking the stage route. I’ll bet Doc kept his little four wheeler close at hand, but out of the way of traffic and you know that Fetus had his mule stabled where it was out of the wind and weather. You have to believe that if Kitty had problems with her customers getting in to the Long Branch, she would cut a deal with the Mercantile next door and get some more space, or even have a boy outside who would deal with the cowboy’s horses for tips. And my guess is that if bartenders Clem or Colie tied their horses up out front, Kitty would have their hides. She wanted to be sure her thirsty customers could get to the bar.

I wonder what would happen if the city today simply told the merchants they were on their own. If they wanted more parking, they had better provide it themselves. Lets see, what could they do — They could purchase the land nearby and build a parking lot (not rely on the city to do it), they could get creative and institute a valet service downtown, or, shudder, they could set up an authority of some kind and charge for on street parking and use the money collected to pay for the additional parking needed, or to pave the streets, or for other improvements in downtown.

I’m sure that Matt and Kitty didn’t go to city hall every time they needed something doing with their downtown. They just got a bunch of merchants together and fixed it. Times have changed, haven’t they.

Anyone out there disagree? Do you think that since our lives and cities are so complex today that we couldn’t solve the problems the way they were solved 130 yeras ago? If so, let me know — comment button is below.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

4 Responses

  1. I agree completely! Life was so much simpler back then. It’s all about getting back to basics. Let me digress a little here. Back in the “Old Days” parking operations meant working hard at getting a location and working even harder to keep it running properly (profitably etc.) These days for some companies it seems to be about marketing and getting locations with nary a thought about how to run them all properly. “Putting out fires” seemed to be a catch phrase I have heard. But guess what! Sometimes you run out of “Firetrucks”
    Making deals for the sake of making deals has only served to drive management fees down and leases up in some markets.
    This probably belongs in response to some other Blog but I couldn’t resist the invitation.

  2. Right on! Wouldn’t it be great if “Putting out Fires” wasn’t the first on the list of duties, but the last

  3. I could not agree more with “Parking Lifer”. That was very well put and really captures the industry today.

  4. More From The Patriot-News | Subscribe To The Patriot-News
    HIA plans to seize private parking lot
    Airport would develop 17.6-acre site as well as two plots it owns
    Thursday, March 31, 2005
    Of The Patriot-News
    One thing stands between Harrisburg International Airport and its plans to grow: a privately owned parking lot.
    For more than 25 years, the Cramer family has run Cramer Airport Parking across the railroad tracks from the airport.
    The business has thrived as the airport has grown. But now it might be engulfed by the airport it serves.
    The Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority, which owns and operates HIA, said last week that it would seize the 17.6 acres that contain the private parking lot and make it available to other businesses.
    “It’s been an emotional roller coaster,” said Linda Cramer, wife of lot owner Stanford Cramer, who could not be reached.
    She said the situation has upset the family and their 25 employees. They also own a Budget Rent-A-Car franchise, renting a counter inside HIA.
    After nearly one year of negotiations, the family and the airport failed to agree on a selling price for the land.
    The authority will use eminent domain, a process that allows a government to grab private property if the land will be used for the greater public good. The authority planned to file its intentions with Dauphin County yesterday.
    HIA wants to develop the land along with two plots it already owns. The combined 65 acres would have direct access to the airfield, railroad lines and Route 230.
    The airport hopes to lure airport-related businesses — such as cargo, aircraft maintenance and manufacturing companies.
    “We have been in talks with several businesses, and it got to the point where I actually needed land to go any further,” said Fred Testa, director of aviation at HIA.
    The Cramer family would get $1.57 million for the property, which the authority said is the appraised value.
    The family said it is worth much more. Last July, they purchased a one-acre plot across the street for $325,000. By that measure, 17.6 acres would cost $5.72 million.
    Testa said the land is worth closer to $50,000 per acre. He said the Cramers paid more for the acre because it had two buildings on it.
    Solomon Cramer, general manager of the lot, said the airport’s plan to seize his family’s land will not put the family out of business. He said they still had options, but he would not elaborate.
    “I’m waiting to see what allowances they are going to make,” Cramer said. “I don’t intend to shut either business down.”
    Cramer Airport Parking pays a fee to use the airport’s roads and garage. But Testa said larger businesses could provide more to the airport and the community, particularly revenue to subsidize the airport and higher-paying jobs.
    More importantly, he said, the site of Cramer Airport Parking — close to the Norfolk Southern Railway line and adjacent to the airport tarmac — is a “perfect spot” for HIA’s expansion plans.
    “When you combine … freight rail with air passengers and the highway systems, you have a hell of a good transportation complex to sell to prospective business owners who want to relocate,” Testa said.
    The airport runs its own parking lot, offering economy parking with shuttle-bus service at $5 a day and garage rates at $14 a day. Cramer Airport Parking charges $5 a day, with the seventh day free and $4 a day beyond that.
    Frank Linn, president of the Lower Swatara Twp. commissioners, said he is in favor of the airport expanding, but “I’m opposed to condemning property just to get property.”
    “It seems logical that Cramer’s is doing a good business there and the airport would like that business,” Linn said. “I hope it’s not that way, but it sure looks like it.”
    Testa dismissed the notion.
    “It is nothing to do with a parking competitor,” he said.
    Donald Marra, 63, a part-time Cramer shuttle-bus driver, was frustrated by the seizure proposal. He said Cramer offers a level of service that the airport couldn’t match.
    “When it snowed and people would come back, the driver would have cleaned off the car for them,” Marra said. “If the car won’t start, the driver will give them a jump. I have a lot of customers who appreciate that.”

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