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.

BOX

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.

 

Comments

T. A. Schwanger

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The old dinosaurs of Sandusky can remember when industry, hotels, theaters, etc. dotted the downtown. How in the world did we cope with parking then?

The 2010 Anderson Economic Group Downtown Marketing Study, again paid for through the Battery Park TIF, stated downtown parking space numbers are adequate,suggested possible parking meters as the downtown grows, parking striping issues, etc. Paving and striping the Jackson Street parking lot has been lip-serviced for 15 years because of relocation of City Hall talks.

The problem of downtown employees parking in front of the business they work for is as old as the cobble stone under downtown streets and likely will never be settled.

The lighting downtown, installed during the "Streetscape Era" not long ago, is inefficient and gloomy causing unsafe conditions. Parking meters were removed to promote the downtown as Route 250 and the Sandusky Mall developed.

Everyone wants to see a vibrant downtown, but doggone it, it's time the merchants take control of downtown and stop unwisely using taxpayer dollars to do so.

DGMutley

"old dinosaurs" <<< T.A. Schwanger

LOL You're right on with your post. Parking really doesn't matter because the customer will find a way.

Fireside

Now what are we gonna do? SCHWANGER is correct on this one.

Lupinne

Why are we going to charge for parking when nobody even goes down there? Last time I was in downtown I ate at Markelys.. How about some Brand new things.. Tear it all down and start over.

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