Parking spaces on East College Street that were the subject of a lawsuit between the city and Oberlin College are returning.
The spaces were removed during construction of the $38 million Gateway Center project, which began in 2014 and includes the Hotel at Oberlin and a conference center at East College and North Main streets.
City officials said the angled spaces outside the hotel would hamper fire truck access and water pipe connections to the hotel violating the fire code and endangering lives.
They refused to issue a permit for sidewalk construction outside the hotel and an occupancy permit, seeking a 40-foot fire lane with no parking along East College in front of the hotel and conference center.
A compromise led to an April settlement. It permits 14 angled spaces on East College while allowing the fire department’s 48-foot aerial ladder truck and its 100-foot ladder to get within 30 feet of the 105,000-square-foot building.
The distance is needed to stabilize the truck when the ladder is extended. The compromise was reached by moving the pumper truck fire lane needed for water pipe connections from East College to North Main, freeing up the spaces. The 70-room hotel opened in May.
Lack of parking has been a problem for East College businesses. Eddy Marflak, manager of the Cowhaus Creamery, said the store owners considered not renewing their lease at 55 East College St.
He said elderly customers and visitors from outside Oberlin want to be able to park close to the store. “If they have to walk (far) they’re going to go somewhere else,” said Marflak, who believes additional parking is needed to attract more businesses.
Construction and the parking shortage also hurt business at the Tree Hugger’s Cafe next store to the Cowhaus, said owner Eric Trepal.
He said many of his regular customers walk or ride bicycles, but parking is needed for those coming from out of town. “It’s a good thing the college did what they did for parking,” Trepal said.
Evan Goodenow at 440-775-1611 or @GoodenowNews on Twitter.
Evan Goodenow | Oberlin News-Tribune Vehicles are parked July 11 outside the Hotel at Oberlin, where angled spaces are returning after a long fight.