Committee discusses downtown parking

By Gary Budzak

March 18, 2014

At its first meeting of the year, the City of Delaware’s Parking and Safety Committee recently agreed to form a working group to discuss downtown parking and approved installing handicapped parking spaces.

“We owe it to our downtown merchants and the customers to find out what the best solution is,” Chairman Kent Shafer said when he proposed the working group during the committee’s meeting. “We need a lot of input.”

The working group would include merchants and council members.

Councilman Chris Jones opened the downtown parking discussion by saying, “Is there any benefit to making all downtown parking 30-minute metered parking?”

Delaware Police Chief Bruce Pijanowski said there used to be metered parking, but now there are “a lot of complaints that the two-hour parking game is being played” by employees, merchants and tenants moving their vehicles slightly.

“These chronic violators, let’s not talk to them. Let’s give them tickets,” Vice Chair Lisa Keller said.

“We haven’t increased our parking fines in a long time, and I personally know of people who have received multiple tickets for a long time, and they just pay them and think it’s cheap parking,” Pijanowski said. He said the city is considering raising “parking fines so that it becomes a little more painful, moving it up (from $15) to $25.”

However, Pijanowski also said that too-strict enforcement could discourage people from coming downtown.

Downtown merchants who spoke at the meeting said some people park all day at the two-hour spaces, while some say there is less abuse at the 30-minute spaces. The committee approved converting a sign from two hours to 30-minutes on the east side of North Sandusky and just north of East Winter Street.

Pijanowski said he would encourage downtown employees and merchants to park at 10-hour meters, and there would be transferable permits available for those meters from the city’s parking control officers.

On March 10, Pijanowski sent a letter to downtown merchants and tenants outlining those changes.

Also at the parking meeting, the committee approved installing single handicapped parking spaces on Richards Circle and Oak Street; and converting a handicapped space in the city’s parking lot on North Franklin Street to a van-accessible handicapped space. The resolutions were passed by City Council on March 10.

“We are getting more requests about these handicap spots,” Pijanowski said.