Few festival options for handicap parking

With thousands of people in town, parking spots are hard to come by. The same holds true for people with disabilities who require handicap access.

The National Cherry Festival turns the lot next to the Midway rides into handicap-only parking.

There are 25 spaces in that lot off of Cass Street, but people say they fill up quickly and arenâ??t close enough to the Open Space.

â??It'd be nice if there was an assigned lot right next to it just for handicap people,â?? said Chelsea Moore from Traverse City. She had to drop off her mother before finding a parking spot because there was nothing close enough.

â??They told us to go park down there next to the Chamber of Commerce, but theyâ??re already existing handicapped spots which weren't anywhere near sufficient for the overload of cars,â?? explained Moore.

It was a similar story for Mary Baatz from Empire.

â??As far as just parking at the handicap parking spaces in town, no. They're just not available,â?? said Baatz.

â??When you get this many people in this town, it's tight,â?? said Dick Jacques, a volunteer for the National Cherry Festival. â??There's no two ways about it.â??

When the 25 spaces of designated handicap parking are full, there aren't many other options.

â??We were lucky. We were just lucky because everything was filled up,â?? said Baatz.

The marina parking lot, right next to the food court in the Open Space used to be available for handicap parking. According to the festival director, the marina decided to take it back a couple years ago.

â??The Marina residents are paying for their parking space for the season so they have their right to their space,â?? said Jacques.

Although the lot is off limits, attendants are still allowing people who can't travel that far to get dropped off.

â??It was really nice that they did that. I really appreciated that,â?? said Liz Moore, Chelseaâ??s mother.

â??We're trying to make it easy for people and accommodate everybody,â?? said Jacques.

The Larry C. Hardy Parking Deck has two scooters that people with disabilities can rent for the day.

There's a $100 deposit, but that's returned if the scooter is brought back without damage.

They ask you to call and reserve it in advance.