July 26, 2012

Commissary parking lot construction plans revised after customer concerns

Story and photos by Robert Anderson
Staff writer

Many commissary patrons now find it difficult to park their vehicles in the current parking spaces which are both small and aligned in a parallel fashion. However, once the second half of the parking lot is completed, both halves of the lot will be striped to allow for wider spaces and diagonal parking.

Since construction of the commissary parking lot began on May 7, complaints and concerns about the project have flooded the inboxes of commissary and garrison leadership, and these have not gone unchecked.

The complaints that have been logged against the parking lot construction project range from design flaws to pedestrian safety issues, while traffic flow and small parking spaces seem to be the major concerns.

John Ruble, Directorate of Public Works director, assures commissary patrons that all the issues have been addressed and new plans have been drawn up to correcting the problems.

“With the original plan we had 263 total spaces; initially the intent was to maximize parking. When we stripe it diagonally, it will go down to 236 total spaces. Handicap assessable, van accessible, motorcycle and employee parking will all stay the same. It is the standard spaces that make up the difference,” Ruble explained.

Although this reduces the number of spaces by 27, this is an increase of 22 spaces from the original parking lot’s 204 spaces.

“We are widening the stalls from 8 feet 9 inches to 9-and-a-half feet. This will make a difference … it is a little tight [current parking spaces] with big trucks and SUVs. I think it will work a lot better,” Ruble said.

Work is underway on the second half of the commissary parking lot. Once the project is entirely finished, officials hope it will meet customer needs and add to the overall quality of the commissary shopping experience.

The project is being implemented in two phases. The first phase is the completed section of the parking lot that has received the above-mentioned complaints from commissary patrons. The second phase is the half of the parking lot currently under construction and will include the changes that were prompted by the said complaints.

Ruble details the new timeline.

“The second phase should be completed September 1. Then we will close the section that is open, seal-coat it and stripe it, and the entire lot should be open September 8.”

Col. Dan McFarland, commander, United States Army Garrison, Fort Huachuca, also wanted to reassure commissary patrons their concerns have been addressed and clarify any misunderstandings about the project.

About the parking lot design McFarland said, “The current one [design] meets the standards, and is comparable to Wal-Mart or Target. But, we realize sometimes we have to go beyond those standards,” McFarland said.

“We heard the consumers’ concerns; they were valid, and we responded to them. We cannot respond to every complaint, but in this particular case, we will go back and redo it,” McFarland added.

The redesigned, finished parking lot will offer commissary patrons one-way parking lanes with larger spaces. New eight-foot pedestrian walkways have been added for customer safety. And the low impact design of the new parking lot will capture six to eight acre-feet of storm water recharge.

“The direct beneficiaries of the new parking lot are the people that use the commissary; and as small as a parking lot may seem, it’s not such a small matter for someone trying to push a shopping cart full of food,” McFarland said.

“The new parking lot will add to our water conservation efforts, and with the landscaping, will be a really good presentation,” he added.

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