Concerning Delaware’s current parking situation, there are two viewpoints to examine:
A. Maybe we do not need parking meters.
Two salient arguments can be advanced here to support this thesis:
1. Saturdays — Most businesses that are open Monday through Friday are also open on Saturday, at least until 2 p.m. when the banks close. There does not seem to be any great problem with parking congestion despite the fact that all meters are free.
2. Westerville — I’ll admit that it’s been awhile since I’ve been there, but in all of the times that I was there, Westerville had no parking meters and did not seem to have that many problems with their parking situation. Westerville is roughly Delaware’s size, has a university located near the downtown, and it has a downtown with as much ambience and draw as Delaware’s does.
If “A” has any appeal to city council, why not give it a try. Perhaps, make the month of April free parking, just like on Saturdays, and see what happens? You’ve certainly got nothing to lose. If it’s total bedlam, forget it and try something else.
B. Create additional parking areas.
Let’s start with the city block bounded by West William/South Franklin/Spring/South Washington streets.
Obviously, leave the Masonic Temple and the former AEP (C&SO) building, and use eminent domain to buy up everything else. Now, you’ve got some room! Do it properly, incorporate the Delaware Run into the design, and you could have a very scenic, practical, and perhaps profitable very large commercial parking area. It’s well located, and you could probably lease enough spaces to make it a paying proposition. A lot of that block’s empty anyhow.
There are other ways to handle our situation (other city blocks consider), but “A” and “B” above just might deserve a minute of your time.
Delaware’s problems are the same as literally hundreds of cities our size. In our case, you’ve got 40,000-plus people existing and trying to use a space designed years ago for 8,000 to 10,000 people, and it just isn’t a good fit in 2023. The post office is another great example. When it was built around 1960, all went well. Now, the parking lot can be something akin to Dodge City on Saturday night.