With the demise of Kmart comes opportunity for its landlord and for the town of Jackson.

Many people assumed that since the private pavement was not actively used for commerce in the wake of the box store’s recent closure, it would be OK to use it for commuting convenience.

Instead, at least 30 cars were slapped with a $70 parking ticket on Saturday. Police ticketed the cars in the lot at the request of the property management company. Towing activity was reported on Monday as well.

Although the property is signed “no parking,” for years it had never been enforced.

An out-of-the-box idea for the massive retail complex is for the town to lease the parking area and build a public-private parking structure funded by meter revenue as part of a long-term parking management plan for the town. Meter revenue could also fund a smartphone app — an innovation being tested in Aspen — to reward commuters who bus, carpool, bike or walk.

The parking structure would be energy-efficient by keeping cars cool in summer and requiring snowplowing only on the top level in winter. Improved covered parking could even attract a better tenant for Kmart’s old space.

It’s the perfect park-and-ride location for visitors, commuters and skiers.

At a time when increasing traffic congestion makes it vital for residents as well as visitors to be creative about ways to avoid single-car trips, it makes sense for a landlord or property management firm to use otherwise unused private parking lots to incentivize those solutions.

To the Abrams family that owns the property: Won’t you consider reversing course, removing the “no parking” signs during this time of building vacancy and using the lot to encourage good behavior like riding the START bus? Let’s use available private parking spaces not needed for commerce to help solve our transportation challenges. A well-traveled parking lot is less of an eyesore than a vacant one in front of a bleak, empty building.

If the landlord doesn’t offer to pay the $2,100 in parking ticket fees the Town Council could order the tickets negated as it enters negotiations with the landlord.

Let’s turn this black eye into an in-the-black parking solution that will reduce traffic congestion and contribute to achieving the community’s transportation goals.

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This editorial represents the opinion of the News&Guide’s editorial board: Johanna Love, Rebecca Huntington, Kevin Olson and Adam Meyer.

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