Temporary parking spaces designated for carryout customers are here to stay in downtown Delaware. During Monday’s Delaware City Council meeting, members unanimously voted to authorize the installation of signage that will create 23 permanent “grab-and-go” parking spaces throughout the downtown district.
The 23 permanent spaces will replace the 37 temporary spaces that were created at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to help the downtown foodservice businesses that had been forced to deal primarily through carryout orders. Each space will allow drivers to park for a duration of 15 minutes, and the spaces will be located in close proximity to both foodservice and retail businesses.
The recommendation for the permanent signage was first made in a combined effort from the city’s economic development department and Main Street Delaware. It was then approved by the Parking and Safety Committee during its Aug. 16 meeting, sending the recommendation to council for final consideration.
Six of the permanent spots will be located along North Sandusky Street, two at the corner of North Sandusky Street and Central Avenue, three along South Sandusky Street, four on West William Street, and eight on Winter Street.
“During the course of coming out of COVID this spring and summer, we started drawing those back and having the discussion about terminating that as a program,” Police Chief Bruce Pijanowski told council. “But business models downtown changed a little bit, and we saw the ongoing value of having those grab-and-go spaces not only with the restaurants but also some of the businesses downtown. So, we were tasked with looking at current situations with temporary spaces and converting that into something that would be reasonable for everyone, accessible, and used by all people downtown.”
In a memorandum to council, Economic Development Director Sean Hughes stated, “To support downtown businesses and provide safe and convenient options for customers, the City of Delaware will allocate on-street parking spaces as official and permanent curbside pickup zones … We have seen how these spots have positively affected our businesses while also providing a valuable service to our residents. As we continue to come back from closures and state mandates, we still see a need for these parking options. In addition, how people dine and shop is changing, and continued curbside “Grab-n-Go” spots are necessary to facilitate carry-out dining and online retail shopping merchandise pickup.”
Parking, or lack thereof, remains a constant point of contention for all who live or work in Delaware. Councilwoman Lisa Keller said it’s difficult doing right by businesses downtown in regard to parking while not creating more of an issue for others.
“It’s just a delicate balance. We’re trying to support our businesses, and all of them are experiencing tough times,” Keller said. “But we don’t want to do a supportive measure for one and then end up having adversely impacted another. So it is tough.”