Hundreds of employes of Alexandria's city hall and courthouse struggle daily with where to park in the crowded heart of Old Town.
Some practice the method of Patrick O'Leary, who leaves his car in a three-hour restricted residential zone and returns regularly to check for telltale chalk marks on his tires.
Others, like traffic citations employe Kim Smith, dole out the full monthly fare of $60-plus to park in the Edison Park Fast garage just across the street from city hall. "I have small kids, and if I have an emergency I have to be able to get to my car quick," Smith said.
But a new proposal to offer shuttle bus service to and from a satellite parking lot at Jones Point has stirred interest among city workers. Results of a survey sent last week to city hall and courthouse employes show that many would be willing to pay a $10 monthly fee to use the lot.
Dayton Cook, director of traffic and environmental services for Alexandria, called the response "surprising," and said the original proposal to the City Council called for only 36 employe spaces at the satellite lot. That number is expected to be expanded to accommodate all of the interested employes, Cook said.
"The parking problem has no one solution," said Cook. "It's getting more difficult and expensive all the time, and I think the city employes who work in Old Town are glad to have an alternative."
The satellite lot would be part of a 6.6-acre, 379-space parking lot to be built on South Royal Street under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge to serve the public as well as city workers. The Planning Commission gave the proposal unanimous approval last week. On June 24, the City Council will decide whether to allocate the funds for the project.
"It's a help. It's not convenient but it's something," said city worker Vivian Humphrey. "It's very difficult because most other city agencies have a free, convenient place to park. Those of us who work in city hall don't have that."
City workers who drive in car pools of three or more can park free in the new Torpedo Plant Plaza garage. Five cars now use the service, according to a memo circulated to city council members. Other choices for city workers are:
*City-subsidized, discounted parking at the Market Square and courthouse lots for handicapped employes, employes who must work too late and to use the shuttle service, clerks of court and some other courthouse employes. The discount, $10 on the current $70 monthly rate, will rise to $20 when the rate increases to $85 in January. It is estimated that 20 employes would qualify for this subsidy.
*A continuing reduced rate for those parking at the Colonial lot at Wolfe and Union streets. The subsidy is now $10 for the 23 employes who use the lot. No new employes will be allowed to use the lot, which is about five blocks from city hall, because it will eventually be closed when construction of a new building begins there.
*Continued free parking in the courthouse lot for judges.
*A 20 percent discount on WMATA bus passes.