Editorial: City should listen carefully to Station owners

   Lambertville needs parking.
   That’s a fact.
   The owners of the Lambertville Station want to provide some of it in the form of a 97-space parking lot. They said they would allow free parking weekdays.
   When they first proposed it, there was a catch; they needed the lot to satisfy one of the requirements for a proposed expansion of the restaurant and inn complex off Bridge Street, fronting the Delaware River and Delaware and Raritan Canal.
   They then dropped plans for a 17,500-square-foot office building with 135 parking spaces after some residents vehemently opposed it, saying the two-story building would mar the beauty of the waterfront area.
   Station owners reapplied for a parking lot only, and the Board of Adjustment gave the nod February 2000. But a state Superior Court judge in Flemington overturned it after several residents filed a lawsuit in opposition to the plan by the Swan Creek Holding Company, formed by Station owners Dan Whitaker, Rose and Skip DiMarco and Michael Dougherty, who purchased the tract for $150,000.
   Now the owners have withdrawn the application in disgust. They planned to meet informally with the Planning Board this week because a recent zoning change would prohibit any non-government-owned parking lots in the R-C zone.
   City officials, residents and Station owners need to sit down and hash out their problems. Approval of the lot isn’t an automatic OK to expand if the owners come back later with a new proposal. The owners would face many months of hearings with various city officials before any expansion could go forward, if at all.
   The owners feel the parking lot would not only provide much-needed parking, but also improve the appearance of the area by removing two ugly metal buildings on the former Ferrellgas site behind the hotel near the state park and boat club.
   We agree. Parking is a good use for the tract that borders the beautiful state park and waterfront.
   And from what we’ve seen over the years, Mr. Whitaker and his partners have taken the utmost care to blend their plans in with that beauty. They have been good neighbors, always eager to help out a good cause financially and providing space for forums, including health issues such as Lyme disease.
   They deserve the city’s respect and, thus, should be listened to with open minds.