The city of Delaware is conducting a downtown parking study and needs your input.
The information gathered may address the supply and demand of spaces; parking alternatives; changes to current city policies; future parking demands; and increasing parking availability.
An 11-question survey can be filled out at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/parkdowntowndelaware.
“This information will be important in developing future parking recommendations,” states a survey card handed out recently on a busy downtown corner.
“Nothing this comprehensive has ever been undertaken before, and we are excited to see the results,” said Lee Yoakum, community affairs coordinator, in an email.
Columbus-based urban planning firm MKSK is leading the study efforts.
“This includes sit-down interviews with staff, downtown business owners, property owners and various downtown stakeholders, detailed mapping, data collection, aerial drone flights and ‘man-on-the-street’ interviews during the work day and on First Friday,” Yoakum said.
“They’re doing a really thorough job,” City Council member Kent Shafer said about MKSK. “One of the things we recognize is that we need to do something about parking, but everybody’s got different ideas. So my goal was to get a consultant in here who does this on a regular basis and has a proven track record. Our goal is to get a good understanding of the situation, and come back to us with a number of options and what the pros and cons are.”
Shafer said the surveys should be completed in June.
“The timeline is a three-month period,” he said. “They (MKSK) wanted a little longer, but we asked them to step it up. Late summer, they’ll make that final report to City Council, and it will be available to the public. Then we’ll have to look at the different options and start making decisions about what we feel is in our best interests and how to fund it.”
The timing is important, because whatever is ultimately decided on may require changes to the city’s capital improvement program and 2017 budget.
While nothing has been decided, there are a few subjects of particular interest, Shafer said.
“What do we do about the on-street parking on Sandusky Street? Right now, we have free two-hour spaces encouraging people to use those to get turnover. We may need to look at how to best manage that, because we’ve had a problem with people abusing the system.
“Are there areas where we can expand surface parking to get more spaces available to us? Right now we’ve got 10-hour meters and 3-hour meters, and there’s new technology out there that allows you to manage that parking a lot better.
“The third is maybe we do need a structure (parking garage), but if we do, are we looking at one big structure? Something like that will have to be phased in over time, because there’s a lot of expense there. In addition to that, just looking at our parking regulations in general.”
The city has a parking and safety committee that meets quarterly and is chaired by Shafer. The next meeting is Monday, May 16, at 7 p.m. in City Hall, 1 S. Sandusky St. The public may attend.
“Long-term, I think we’re going to see a lot of improvements in our downtown parking, and make it better for everybody,” Shafer said.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.