With the latest political season just dawning in Riverside, a village trustee on Monday dug up an old political football Monday night, proposing to apply for a grant to construct a parking lot at 61-63 E. Burlington St.

Of course, the village board defeated a push to build a lot at that site in 2009, with the majority unconvinced that was the best use for the property and looking down the road to a time when selling the land might bring in some much-needed short-term cash.

At the same time, Trustee Mark Shevitz crafted a plan to create more employee parking behind businesses on Burlington Street, and moved commuter spots elsewhere. At the time he also said he was working on a deal with the Riverside Masonic Lodge to share their lot. That deal looks to have fizzled.

Does Riverside need more parking downtown? At this very moment, it’s arguable. But if village trustees are dedicated to economic development in the central business district – and the prospect of hiring a staff person to do such work would indicate they are – an attractive, welcoming gateway to motorists would seem to be a good fit.

The latest proposal by Trustee Ben Sells of using a state grant to build a “green” parking lot (featuring permeable pavers and a rain garden to absorb storm water runoff) would allow the village to use the lot in any way it deems fit (whether it’s a pay lot or free, for example). And using the village’s parking lot fund to pay for the village’s share of its construction can certainly be worked out from an accounting standpoint.

As Sells stated Monday night, such a lot would act on a stated wish of Riverside voters to pursue green initiatives, it would give downtown merchants the attractive gateway and additional parking they’ve been clamoring for, and it would not cost property tax payers a cent.

It’s time to do something productive with this piece of land on the edge of the business district. This summer it served as a visually uninviting (to say the least) construction staging area for water main work. Certainly, that’s not the best use for the property.

Other ideas floated for the property – including building bocce courts! – to us just reveals a lack of vision on the part of the board. If the goal is to rejuvenate the downtown business district, then it’s time to get at it.

Using grant money and parking revenues to construct a state-of-the-art “green” parking lot at the eastern edge of the downtown district simply makes sense. It’s time to stop being recalcitrant.

If it turns out there’s not enough time to get in line for this year’s grant program, then it’s time to begin putting together a grant application for next year. But it’s past time to realize once and for all that, in fact, the best use for that property is to help businesses thrive in downtown Riverside.

Giving people an easy, attractive place to park is a good start.