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PARTA Deck Opens for Parking Downtown

Drivers will be able to park free through May

With little public fanfare, the 365 public parking spaces in PARTA's Kent Central Gateway transit center opened downtown Tuesday.

The bus transfer and commercial spaces in the deck have yet to open, but many Kent residents and business owners cheered the opening of the parking spaces virtually with "likes" and positive feedback spreading like wildfire on social media.

Frank Hairston, director of marketing for PARTA, said drivers who pulled into the deck when it opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday flashed the thumbs up to transit authority administrators gathered for the early opening.

"If you go online, everybody’s saying that ‘Hey I get a parking space downtown!'" Hairston said. "And they’re all happy right now. There’s still work going on the transit side of it, but the parking is done."

Drivers will have free access to the deck's five parking levels through May and possibly into early June, as PARTA is awaiting delivery and then installation of the pay collection machines that will manage the deck.

Rates for parking have not yet been determined, Hairston said.

"We’re in the final stage of doing that," he said. "We should have the rates in two to three weeks."

The bus transit operation in the deck is not expected to open until July in order to give PARTA time to train its drivers and staff on the deck operations.

As for commercial tenants, PARTA will put a contract out to bid in May for a management firm to operate the commercial spaces on the ground floor of the deck that face Erie Street.

Along with the new parking comes a new traffic signal that will be installed at the intersection of Erie Street and Haymaker Parkway.

Kent City Engineer Jim Bowling said the new stoplight is under construction now and should be running in June.

For now, Erie Street between Haymaker Parkway and South DePeyster Street remains closed.

"We don’t plan on opening Erie Street until the light is up and functioning," Bowling said.

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Jim Williams May 01, 2013 at 01:17 PM
This is a great addition to the city, and a coup for PARTA and the town/gown partnership to get the funding. Congrats to all who got this done!
Hope Moskal May 01, 2013 at 02:17 PM
Just in time for the weather to get nice enough for me and my husband to just walk to downtown. We could have needed this 6 months ago. Good job.
Alice Ickes May 01, 2013 at 03:00 PM
Wow - thanks for the video tour too! I look forward to using the new parking deck and checking our the birds-eye-view.
Gary T. Labajetta May 02, 2013 at 01:18 AM
Well, 6 months from now it should still be their to use! This evening my son and I took a ride down and checked out the deck. He said he couldn't believe a parking deck was in Kent. He is twelve and in seventh grade! I echoed his sentiment and I'm fifty, born and raised here! What a wonderful and long overdue addition to the city scape. On a beautiful May evening the city was alive and vibrant! Two thumbs up!
FillerUp May 02, 2013 at 01:33 AM
You can tell how disappointed we all are chickens ...

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