Parking changes could be coming

Published 9:28 pm Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Some changes could be in order for downtown parking, but the city is trying to get reaction from the downtown community before it moves forward.

“We’d like to hear the feedback,” said Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes at Wednesday’s Downtown Business Association meeting. He explained minor modifications the city is exploring in two downtown lots, which could lead to larger changes if they are well-received.

The proposed alterations to the Cherry Street and Godwin Courts parking lots would not change the number of spaces, but would result in more all-day parking. The Cherry Street lot is located between South Saratoga Street and the overpass; the Godwin Courts lot is located on East Washington and Commerce streets, behind the courthouse and the Professional Building.

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Downtown businessman Andy Damiani said parking improvements are necessary because the viability of nearby businesses relies on vehicle turnover.

“Parking is at a premium right now,” he said. “There have to be enough spaces for business flow.”

The proposed modifications include switching seven two-hour spots in the Cherry Street parking lot, facing the overpass, to all-day spots. Five spots would remain two-hour spaces. Most of the lot is all-day parking.

In the Godwin Courts lot, the city hopes to shift some of the lot’s two-hour spaces from the middle of the lot towards East Washington Street. That change would put limited-time parking closer to shops and restaurants, while putting all-day parking closer to the courthouse, where people frequently are held up longer than two hours.

Damiani said he hopes the city will crack down on people who meet rides in the public lots and park in the all-day spots, tying up the spot while they are out of the city.

“We might be serving the wrong folks,” Damiani said. “We don’t need them to do that.”

Damiani also complained of downtown workers parking in the same two-hour spot all day, while simply moving their car slightly to misalign the chalk marks on their tires and the pavement.

“That’s one of the reasons we’re looking at this,” Hughes said.

Coming parking improvements could include the replacement of the brown-and-black signs directing patrons to parking with more traditional signs with arrows and a large “P.”

Parking improvements are vital to the success of downtown, Damiani said.

“It’s always been a problem,” he said. “They need a place to park.”