Parking in downtown Kent has been a topic of conversation at a number of unrelated meetings I’ve had lately so it’s been on my mind, and when I saw a draft of an article prepared by Kent’s Public Safety Director about downtown parking I thought now was a good time to share it.
Generally speaking, parking troubles is often a symptom of higher levels of activity in downtown, so in that regards it is conceptually a good problem to have, but it’s still a problem so the City has continued to invest time and money to find solutions in both the short and long term.
Long term (Fall 2012) we’re going to be in really good shape with some 600 additional parking spaces in downtown Kent; it’s the short term that we’ve got to get creative with.
The current parking situation seems to be a culmination of downtown businesses doing well, bringing more customers into the central business district, and construction activity which has temporarily limited some traditional parking spots. More people and less spots means its time to come up with some alternatives — which is exactly what the City’s Traffic Safety and Engineering Committee has been working on.
The staff, in conjunction with the Parking Action Committee (citizens), have made some recent changes to traditional downtown parking restrictions in order to go with the flow and adjust on the fly to the parking demand and supply issues. The good news is that there’s still plenty of downtown parking supply, but it may require a few more steps to the front door once you park — hopefully a small price to pay in the name of progress and redevelopment.
The City’s Public Safety Director thought it was important to address this issue in the next edition of the Tree City Bulletin so he scripted a brief article which follows.
The City of Kent Traffic/Safety, Service, and Engineering Divisions have been putting forth a great deal of effort to help serve the community during significant changes in traffic and parking that the downtown development efforts are continuing this summer and beyond. In a previous edition of the Tree City Bulletin, we described the variety of current and pending projects that will be occuring this year, which will change the face of downtown. Although these projects may create some minor inconveniences, the net effect will be dramatic.
An update on the major project list includes the following:
- Acorn Alley Phase 2, is currently under construction, and construction of the plaza phase is anticipated to start soon.
- Alley 4 reconstruction will soon begin with installation of underground utilities on Depeyster St. from Main St. to the alley adjacent to the Acorn Alley 2 development.
- The PARTA Multimodal transportation facility construction will begin by mid June.
- The Kent Development block by Fairmont Development will build totally new, mixed use buildings on the Haymaker, Water, Erie block. Construction of the foundations/footers should begin on the primary buildings between July 1 and July 31.
- The new Hotel/Conference Center building on Depeyster St and along Haymaker Parkway is scheduledconstruction to begin in mid to late summer.
- And finally the reconstruction of E. Erie and S Depeyster Streets is tentatively scheduled for the first nine months of 2012.
Everyone in the community is excited about these improvements to the downtown area, knowing that they will make it an even more energetic and lively place to live, work and play. A significant planning effort by City staff and interested partners has been going on in order to provide a responsive and effective parking program for this major area by the completion of the major projects.
In the meantime, we need the help of our residents, businesses and friends. While the construction reaches its peak, there will be some limitations to the available parking spaces. This is not to suggest that there won’t be parking downtown, but it may be a little more difficult to find for a little while. The staff continues to make changes and modifications to the current parking program on a very timely basis so that you can continue to come downtown to visit all of our local businesses.
But please remember that you don’t always have to drive. We encourage carpooling, biking, walking or other alternate travel means. And for special events that take place throughout summer, we are looking at mass transit plans to help out due to the shortage of parking spaces. Also, please look for special parking information in the announcements for special events that are scheduled for downtown.
It is most important to please remember that our downtown businesses rely on the availability of parking to enable their customers to shop and do business downtown. If you work downtown, it is important to remember that if you park close, you may be blocking a potential customer from doing business at your place of employment. If you will be in the downtown for a longer period of time, please look around for parking that is slightly removed from the primary business district. The length of a longer parking stay downtown may inhibit three other citizens from completing transactions with businesses in town within the same time period. Some examples of areas where longer parking as three hour zones may be available include:
S. Depeyster St. south of E. Erie St.
Franklin Ave south of W. College St.
N. Water St. north of Portage St.
Gougler Ave north of Main St
Conditions downtown may continue to be a little chaotic, but it’s still going to be a summer to remember in Kent, Ohio.