Patch Barracks officials look for ways to provide parking
STUTTGART, Germany — From workers heading into the office at U.S. European Command headquarters to commissary shoppers and schoolteachers, a glut of traffic pours through the gates at Patch Barracks each morning — up to 2,000 cars a day.
But with only 750 spaces, the search for a parking spot often results in an infuriating quest involving repeated laps around post.
There’s nothing new about that, but garrison officials are hoping to introduce some new measures to help ease the squeeze in 2009.
"It is a quality of life issue and it is tremendously frustrating," said Col. Richard M. Pastore, commander of the U.S. Army Garrison, Stuttgart. "We’re attacking it from every angle. It’s a full-court press."
The first step will be to restructure Patch’s Washington Square, which will create about 80 new spaces, Pastore said. Another plan is in the works to add 100 streetside parking slots nearby.
"What we’re doing is chipping away at it," Pastore said.
In addition, EUCOM officials are exploring the possibility of a subsidy plan that would provide a financial incentive for staffers to use Stuttgart’s public transportation when commuting to the office.
Yet even with all of these plans, the discrepancy between cars and available space means a crunch is to some extent unavoidable.
A parking garage would solve the problem, but getting such a structure built is another matter. Citing force protection concerns, the Defense Department has been disinclined to fund such structures since the Sept. 11 attacks. Still, Pastore said the garrison will continue to lobby for the funds to build a garage.
In the meantime, Pastore’s team has made some practical changes, some of which have had an impact as other initiatives have failed to win broader support.
Pastore had attempted to establish a parking lot dedicated exclusively to carpoolers in an effort to cut down on the traffic. "There was very little interest," Pastore said, adding that he doesn’t possess the command authority to mandate participation.
But other efforts have paid dividends. "We attacked the reserved parking right off the bat," Pastore said.
Garrison officials, by working with units on post, eliminated 70 percent of the reserved spaces in the past 1½ years. That translates into 135 more slots for drivers.
Though a somewhat pedestrian concern, the subject of parking always seems to rouse local residents. At a recent town hall meeting, some of the usual complaints about insufficient space were voiced.
EUCOM officials, meanwhile, recently offered up an idea that called for employees who live on post to walk to work, freeing up spaces for commuters.
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Corey Barker, a EUCOM spokesman, said it was just an idea under consideration, not a policy. But those who can walk are encouraged to do so, he said.
While officials wait for word on a garage, the garrison will continue to look at ways to make smaller improvements. "We’ve done a lot in the last year and a half," Pastore said.