Once the political dust (or donkey-dust, as Rick Taylor used to say) has settled, maybe we can get an update on two major items, downtown parking and Muhlenberg.
In February, the City Council approved a parking structure feasibility study for $60,750. It was a step toward creating a parking deck downtown. Talk of a parking deck goes back at least to 2007, when planning consultant George Stevenson of Remington & Vernick said he knows the city is planning a six-story parking deck off East Second Street between Watchung and Park avenues. That didn't happen, and the city is still relying on ground parking for the Central Business District.
The new study will include examination of funding options, such as asking developers to contribute to the cost. Another issue is whether the the Parking Authority should be revived. It was disbanded in favor of a Parking Bureau that monitors parking both in city lots and at meters
The Muhlenberg situation is more recent. While Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center closed in 2008, a satellite emergency department remained at the hospital site. It has since been relocated to another building on the campus, which was subdivided into three lots. The now-vacant hospital sits on the largest lot, which is 10 acres.
In March, the city issued a request for proposals for the site. Although it is still owned by the hospital, officials have been willing to let the city seek a redeveloper. The site would have to be purchased from the hospital owners and the city wants a "health care focus" for future uses.
A downtown parking facility and a new health care resource are crucial to city development, the first because of new apartments downtown in addition to stores, and the second because the hospital closing created a void that needs to be filled for the city and its neighbors.