Personally, I'm thrilled that they're putting a small park in front of Waterloo Town Square. There are certainly other parks in the area, but none of them are adjacent to food or shopping so they have never attained "central meeting place status." I want a place where I can sit and read, surrounded by lots of other people who are socializing and eating and having a break between shopping sprees.
I can also tell you that when things get really hot in town, a park is a blessing and a parking lot a terrible curse.
But you see, the park will replace a certain number of parking spots around the shopping mall, and a lot of people are outraged by this. They say that it's hard enough to find parking in uptown Waterloo as it is, so replacing that parking lot with green space will drive people away from uptown businesses.
Now, I walk through uptown Waterloo every day so I get a pretty good sense of where people are parking. I agree that cars are constantly cruising around the entrances to Waterloo Town Square, getting frustrated because they can't find a spot...A SPOT WITHIN THIRTY FEET OF THE DOORS.
Maybe I'm just particularly able-bodied, but there is a huge free lot next to the mall -- right across Willis Way -- that is NEVER more than 1/3 full. That lot is literally a minute's walk away from Waterloo Town Square -- and by extension the rest of the uptown shops -- but most people would rather drive their cars around the entrances than walk for more than a few seconds at a stretch.
I have only recently begun driving again so perhaps I'm missing something, but I simply don't see a "parking for shoppers" problem in uptown Waterloo. There certainly seems to be a logjam of city workers who need to park in the garage adjacent to the bank -- something needs to be tweaked there during rush hour, for sure -- but if you want to park within walking distance of the shopping, YOU CAN.
I made the mistake of asking one of the nice employees in the mall when the new park would be built, and she went off on a surprising tirade about it all. Strangely, her objection was NOT to the removal of the parking spots. She said the new park would "attract all the bums, bring in more alcohol, become dangerous..."
And I was like, "the bums are already IN uptown, and the park is going to be tiny and full of businessmen on their lunch." It had never even OCCURRED to me that the park could somehow be a "safety issue," being as you'll be able to walk from one end to the other in fifteen seconds.
I can only assume that this bizarre "dangerous park" thing is a fallback complaint after somebody deflated complaint number one ("not enough parking") by monitoring the mostly-empty lot next door and presenting their results.
Sometimes I jump to conclusions without having all the facts. But until somebody can explain to me why they can't park within walking distance of uptown -- with or without the new park -- I can only assume that those folks are lazy bums who'll be surprised to learn they actually have feet.