Is a parking study needed for Oberlin’s downtown district?
The planning commission and business owners believe so.
Planning chair Matt Adelman agreed last Wednesday to talk with Oberlin College officials about partnering with the city to conduct the study.
Carrie Handy, who heads Oberlin’s planning and development office, said the idea of a study came from the multiple city council and commision meetings about the parking issue along East College Street by the Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center.
Downtown business owners agreed parking is a serious problem and something needs to be done.
Liz Burgess, owner of the Ginko Gallery & Studio, said she’s gotten numerous complaints about parking from her customers. “They can’t find a place or have to circle until they find one,” she said.
Ben Franklin owner Krista Long said she does not think a parking study is going to help. “There’s clearly a parking problem,” she said. “Let’s not study a problem.”
Long said there aren’t enough parking spaces for workers and visitors and said the city needs to find a way to create more parking in the long-term.
“Since I’ve been born there’s been a parking problem,” said Ruth Aschaffenburg, owner of Bead Paradise.
The issue became worse when the college allowed students to bring cars to school, she said.
Aschaffenburg wants the college to fine students and faculty members who park in designated permit parking locations without a required permit.
“My customers have to circle around for 15 to 20 minutes,” she said. “It’ll never change until the college addresses the problem.”
Barb Przybylowicz, owner of the Tuck Shop, and Ratsy Kemp, owner of Ratsy’s Store, said they do not have parking problems on par with those that plague businesses located near the intersection of College and Main streets. “I’m fortunate,” Przybylowicz said.
Aschaffenburg and Burgess said they have paid their customers’ tickets. “I pay a couple tickets a year,” Burgess said. “We depend on our out-of-town customers.”
Handy said the planning commission made a recommendation to city council to budget for the study but council wants the commission to investigate sharing the expense with the college.
“It’s time we really do a real one,” she said. Handy has been searching to discover when a parking study was last done, but so far has turned up empty-handed.
Oberlin College media spokesman Scott Wargo said the college conducted its own parking study for the Gateway project but it was only for that area.
Handy said if a study is done then the city needs to evaluate it at different days, times of the day, and seasons of the year.
“When the students leave it’s different,” she said. “You want to get as good of a range as you can.”
The commission is interested in expanding the study slightly outside of the downtown district, Handy said.
She believes it could cover from Vine to Union streets on the north and sound sides and Park to Woodland streets on the east and west sides.
Handy said the members want to make sure the study covers all the areas that have a parking impact.
“There’s no other public parking besides on the street,” she said. There is parking at city hall but most other cities have visitor off-street parking.
Multiple business owners expressed interest in having a parking garage built downtown. That’s a very expensive proposition.
Adelman is expected to give the planniong commission an update on a possible parking study at its next meeting at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 20 at city hall’s conference room two.
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.
Planning commission members want city and Oberlin College officials to partner together and conduct a parking study of the downtown district.