Pay to park? City to 'study' idea

Sandusky city commissioners green lighted a $38,500 plan aiming to provide some clarity to downtown’s parking dilemma.
Andy Ouriel
Apr 10, 2013

People familiar with downtown’s layout realize plenty of free parking spaces exist. The hazy part — often frustrating downtown residents, entrepreneurs and anyone visiting the area — revolves around long-lingering issues left unaddressed for years.

Ideally, a parking plan approved Monday will answer the following questions:

• Should people, including those leaving their cars in city lots for days while they hop on boats to nearby islands, pay to park?

• Are city officials going to install meters, limiting people how long they store their cars on streets?

• Can employees hog prime parking spots in front of shops or stores all day, forcing customers to walk great distances so they can spend money?

• Will city officials possibly assign an officer to vigorously enforce parking rules posted on signs?

Arizona-based parking company Kimley-Horn and Associates will provide resolution to these inquiries and more after after analyzing patterns and compiling data during the next few months.

Members representing Sandusky Main Street Association, a private organization advocating for downtown development, selected the company after area residents and business owners brought these parking issues and others up during a community meeting some months ago.

The study depended upon a $20,000 donation from the Dorn Foundation. 

City taxpayers contributed the remaining $18,500 following a 5-1 commission vote, with commissioner Wes Poole dissenting and commissioner Diedre Cole absent.

“I do want to say parking downtown has not been mismanaged — it has been ignored,” Poole said.

Poole voted ‘no’ after citing problems with John Lippus, the association’s executive director, spearheading the process in selecting a company.

If taxpayers are spending money, Poole argued city officials should’ve quarterbacked the effort in receiving bids from multiple companies interested in formulating a parking plan.

“This is a lot of money to spend and tell us what we already know downtown,” Poole said. “We circumvented the process and we went outside of it.”

Lippus countered Poole’s statement by saying he followed all ethical policies city officials normally abide by during a bid process.

Meanwhile, commissioner Julie Farrar voiced her approval for the plan.

“We have to make sure we have a plan in place for parking, and we have to create some revenue from parking,” Farrar said. “People pay to park all the time. Any city I visit, I have to pay to park.

Farrar wondered aloud, including suggesting adding another level atop the Erie County Office Building’s parking garage, if city residents and others should pay to park in downtown.

“In my personal opinion, $18,500 is a drop in the bucket compared to the money we have spent over the years on other things,” Farrar said.


Several downtown residents, business owners and others concerned with the plan voiced their opinion at Monday’s public meeting:

“We support the study. We have many parking problems when we have large events.”

— Sandusky State Theatre board member Tom Sloma

“We have some challenges down here, and one of them is parking. A professional and unbiased, detailed study is really important to me.”

— Downtown resident Matt Ehrhardt

“I have some serious concerns over this. It’s no good to do a study if you don’t have the money.”

— Sandusky resident Sharon Johnson

“This study will provide some insight on how we can properly manage and provide some solutions to parking.”

— Downtown business owner Cesare Avallone

“We need everyone to understand we don’t’ have a parking problem. We have parking management issues. We have enough parking spaces, but they are not managed in the best way. The parking situation today could affect future growth and business development.

— Sandusky Main Street Association executive director John Lippus.




“In my personal opinion, $18,500 is a drop in the bucket compared to the money we have spent over the years on other things,” Farrar said.

~~~Is this woman a complete idiot?





Phil Packer

If I owned a business downtown, I can tell you where I'd park~right out in front! Yeah, that makes a lot of sense...

Professor Playdoh

My thoughts..If I have to pay to park downtown to get a haircut and visit Water Street for lunch..I'll have to find another barber and stop at AppleBees or Chilis for lunch.. I can't think of any place downtown I'd pay to park for.. And if thats downtown where is Uptown?


Tear down the Keller building and put in an overnight pay parking lot for people getting on ferries for the weekend. Make all other spots downtown 2 hour parking.
But it will only work if you enforce the rules.


You can use my idea for only $10,000, I accept cash!


Lol..Better make that $9,999 if it's cash.


Louisville Ky recently has had a revitalization of its downtown, one of the first things they did to bring people downtown was made all the parking free !

The Answer Person

An excellent and timely idea and article! When was this article written? 1952???

The Commissioners need to take a Sandusky City history lesson. This crapola has been talked and talked and talked about for DECADES! Same problems, same suggestions and same NO ANSWERS!

Since Sharon is old enough to remember this, she should have all the answers.


clap, clap, clap for you oh mighty Answer Person. I think you are finally coming out of the fog

The Bizness

Cesare has it right, there is plenty of parking.

Maybe put more handicapped spots right down town and then the able bodied people could get out and walk a little...imagine that people walking!

Get your fat buts walking from more than a block away. You can park at the new Marina, Shoreline Park, Jackson St. Pier, even Battery Park in the summer.


Apparently you haven't been looking at who is utilizing these handicap parking spaces. It isn't like years ago where they were used by little old ladies or a paraplegic in a wheelchair. Nope, now they are filled with heifer's, people 400+lbs, who through years of laziness can no longer walk. You are right though, these spaces would be ideal downtown...right in front of the restaurants so that they won't have far to go in order to do their favorite activity.

The Bizness

I don't think obesity is a disease, so therefore I don't think obese people should get handicapped spaces. However I do understand what are you are saying and it gave me a good chuckle.


KnuckleDragger..Do you think it's possible Mona Pizza can add a drive up window? Ha! I love that place!


There is not A parking problem, there are many. Without an overall strategy to optimise parking for the health of downtown, you get piecemeal decisions that appease special interests, and/or lack of decisions, that add up to bad policy.

The notion that there's insufficient parking to accomodate State Theatre events is absurd. Most attendees can park less than a block away, and to need to park more than two blocks away would be unususal. Anyone who thinks that's a "problem" is a bumkin. What's unfair is that the State Theatre is allowed to coopt ALL the columbus Ave parking during an event. But how do you make it fair? Most evening visitors need more than an hour for their "business."

The city lots for the most part have had little maintenance and no improvements in decades. They are are a disgrace.

There is no shortage of parking spaces most of the time, and if we always had plenty, that would be too many, or a sign of failure to draw people downtown. Acres of parking with little to visit assures failure.

The Port Redevelopment plan calls for encouraging downtown residential use to assure a vital downtown. May of those residential units have no dedicated parking, so enforcing a 24-hour limit for residents would make life impossible.

Metered parking is not an assured moneymaker. It's a way of enforcing parking policy that may cost a bit more that it brings in. And just because SOME other small cities have it doesn't make it a good idea - they are often installed for the wrong reasons, or under the delusion that they'll be profitable.

A comprehensive study can be a good thing, but beware; it may just tell you what you aready know, or it may just be used to promote the agenda of those who control the study. Without intellegent and proactive management, no study or plan is worth a nickel.

The Bizness

Well said sir!

local man

Ms Farrar, the study costs $38,500 for someone to tell us we should have paid lots, the garage shouldn't be free and someone should be patrolling town to make sure spots are not tied up for long periods of time.


There isn't a single business downtown that I would make an effort to visit if I had to pay to park.


How many commission meetings can you miss, and still be considered a commissioner in good standing?


lets charge those who use the city lot to pay like those who work there who want to park up front
also isn't cedar point located in the city?
let just cut he administration pay such as lets say the one making 100,000+


hey why cant we charge all the boats a tax for docking at local marina's like the murry building?


Meters will destroy downtown business.


What business?


lets have a girlscout cookie tax ... yummy


There is nothing worth feeding a meter for in downtown Sandusky. The Jet Express is already overpriced and this would just solidify our decision to take a ferry out of Marbletuckey or Port Clinton.


There goes your mouth again. Everything outside of Sandusky has to have a "tucky" behind it. This ain't the hills, Cowboy. It's flat and has one of the biggest lakes on this planet. And really, Kentucky is a beautiful place if you know where to go.


Couldn't agree with you more Cowboy! Was thinking the same thing.
Get some franchise businesses there first. Turn downtown Sandusky into something like Crocker Park and people wouldn't mind paying for parking.


Seriously? You prefer a FAKE old town to a REAL one?

The Bizness

While I do agree that some more botique type high end shops would be good, I do not understand why you'd want a majority of franchises.

Nothing says 'i am getting screwed and enjoying it' like a franchise.