Meters along Sandusky Street, a circulator bus route and a valet service may be considered as some of the ways to alleviate a perceived parking shortage in downtown Delaware.
The perception that there’s lack of parking spaces is driven when the downtown core, or six blocks of Sandusky Street, reaches its peak during lunch and dinner hours on Fridays and Saturdays, according to a study commissioned by the city. But low-activity areas that are within walking distance of the core are often underutilized during those times.
Delaware City Council will have a work session Monday to gain insight about the study’s findings and conclusions from MKSK, a Columbus-based landscape architecture, urban design and planning firm.
“They have conducted a considerable amount of research regarding the specifics of parking in downtown Delaware, and that, combined with their extensive experience in other jurisdictions, has led to these recommendations,” said Kent Shafer in a memo to Council.
The vice mayor was part of an 18-member steering committee that reviewed the information throughout the planning process for the final plan’s development. Other members included area stakeholders such as Susie Stromberg of Toujours, Don Rankey of Homelife Company and Brian Harpster of Barley Hopster.
The firm’s study area included all of downtown, it’s adjacent residential blocks along with small portions of Ohio Wesleyan University’s campus and the Northwest neighborhood.
The area has more than 3,300 parking spaces with 46 percent designated as public and 54 percent as private. Of those spaces, 63 percent have no time restrictions, while 37 percent do, ranging from 15 minutes to 10 hours.
The study has about 50 recommendations for the city’s parking system and policy, signage and wayfinding, pedestrian experience, meter strategies and core parking lots.
Downtown actually has a sufficient amount of parking spaces to serve Delaware now, the study said, but several factors affect the efficiency and usability of the parking system.
And while more parking may be needed in the future as downtown develops, one key finding the study mentions is inadequate parking turnover of high-demand spaces outside of enforcement hours.
Recommendations to accomplish that goal include the reintroduction of paid parking spaces along Sandusky Street by installing smart meters or pay station kiosks, while updating current meters that now accept only coins. Ten-hour parking spaces would be eliminated from the downtown core, while parking for downtown employees would be relocated outside of the area to underutilized spaces such as Spring Street and the portion of Sandusky Street south of Spring.
Another strategy offered for parking during peak times is to create a communal valet parking system. Businesses could contract with a valet company to operate the service. Potential staging locations include the north side corner of William and Sandusky streets; south side of Winter Street in front of the Strand Theatre; and the parking lot of the PNC bank building, 40 N. Sandusky St., where the Gazette is located.
In addition, the study said the city should work with the Delaware Area Transit Authority to establish transit circuit in downtown similar to the Central Ohio Transit Authority’s CBUS route in Columbus.
Short-term recommendations could take about one to two years to complete, while mid-term ones would take about three to five years and more than five years for long-term recommendations.
The report also provided information about the feasibility of a parking structure. Costs depend if the structure is a one-story parking deck or a multi-level parking garage. A parking deck would cost about $15,000 to $18,000 per space, while a parking garage would cost about $20,000 per space.
Potential locations for a parking structure would include the Delaware Justice Center parking lot accessed from Winter and Union streets; the William Street lot combined with the BP gas station; Winter Street parking lot; and the southern portion of the South Sandusky block that fronts Spring Street.
The Hayes parking lot on Union Street, across from the County courthouse, now-in-construction, could have the largest structure, but because its location is not centralized in downtown, a parking deck may be more suitable.
“It is my hope that our discussions will result in decisions and a clear action plan for moving forward with improvements and enhancements for our downtown parking,” Shafer said.
In other business, Council is expected to approve the final development plan for Midway Structural Pipe on a second reading. The owner plans to relocate the business from Columbus to the intersection of Pittsburgh Drive and Section Line Road.
The meeting will take place at City Hall, 1 S. Sandusky St., 6:30 p.m. in council chambers.
Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.