You Ask...Patch Answers is back.
We've heard murmurings about the Great Escape parking situation since the restaurant opened. Last week, reader CL had a bunch of questions ready for contributor Tyler Twombly who hit the streets to find some answers.
"I am wondering what the deal is with the parking in front of the Great Escape restaurant," CL writes. "It was my understanding that people were not to be parking in that circle/sidewalk area in front of the building, but cars seem to always be parked there anyway. Am I wrong? The area is very badly lit and I know a lot of people who walk home from the commuter rail and have nearly been hit by cars backing out. If parking is allowed in that area, why is it allowed to be so badly lit? If parking isn't allowed, why is no one doing anything about it?"
Here is what Tyler found:
The parking situation at Great Escape restaurant has been the subject of debate since the restaurant opened in September of 2010. Currently, parking at the restaurant is very limited with only 5 spots in the driveway according to manager Shane Andruskiewicz.
The 5 spaces mentioned are not located in the semi-circle walkway area in front of the old jail. They are located in the driveway of the restaurant near the entrance.
Great Escape had an interest to turn the semi-circle plot of land in front of the property into additional parking, but residents and Ward 2 counselor Michael Sosnowski are committed to keeping that spot a “green area.”
The semi-circle area is not owned by the restaurant and modifying it was not in the original agreement with the City of Salem. There was a meeting last month among the restaurant owners, neighbors and the architects, but nothing was accomplished in terms of gaining additional parking.
The bottom line: parking is not officially allowed in that area, but the restaurant does not enforce that other than telling customers not to park there. If you see cars parked in the semi-circle area, they aren’t supposed to be there.
Manager Andruskiewicz says, “It is city property but, the city hasn’t been monitoring it, which is beneficial to me…I try to educate them that it is not my property and the city doesn’t want people parking there.”
For now, customers of the Great Escape restaurant can park in one of the five parking spaces available in the driveway, and everyone else can find parking nearby or across the street at the yellow condos, the train station or the municipal lot at the corner of Church and St. Peter streets.
Andruskiewicz says, “our immediate plans include valet parking [and] we’re working on signage for parking.”
A specific date for an additional meeting has not been set. If and when this happens, the Great Escape will likely not be moving forward with requests for additional parking as the neighbors and Ward 2 counselor are completely against it.
“We don’t want to do anything distasteful…We are doing everything in our power [to improve the parking situation] without asking for additional parking from the neighborhood,” says Andruskiewicz.
There are plans for beautifying the semi-circular area. According to Andruskiewicz, at the meeting last month, architectural firm Feingold Alexander Associates spoke with a local artist about adding pieces of sculpture to the plot. Andruskiewicz says, “I’m not going to say anything about it. If it looks nice out there, that benefits me…It is the entrance to the City…make it pleasant.”