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Property Owner Says Tenants Worried About Paid Parking Downtown

City is planning to install pay stations to manage less than one-third of parking spaces that will be available downtown when redevelopment is finished

Bill Arthur shared the concerns of his retail tenants with the Kent Parking Action Committee recently about the new paid parking program coming to downtown later this year.

Arthur, a member of the committee, also owns TransOhio Properties, which owns several buildings downtown and rents to multiple retail and commercial businesses.

"I don’t know if it’s different in other parts of the city where we’re going to be implementing these parking (stations), but I have yet to find someone who thinks it’s a good idea," Arthur said. "There’s a lot of concern out there from different tenants that this is going to be a bad thing simply because other cities our size typically don’t do this."

Patch reported in January about the new parking pay stations that are planned for downtown Kent.

The new system may or may not incorporate the parking spaces on the Main Street Bridge, but plans call for the stations to manage 262 of the 1,100 spaces that will be available downtown when PARTA's transit center and the new Kent courthouse lot open.

On-street spaces that will be managed by the pay stations are located on:

  • South DePeyster Street, from Haymaker Parkway to Main Street
  • Erie Street, the full length
  • Water Street, from Haymaker Parkway to Columbus Street
  • Main Street, from DePeyster Street to Franklin Avenue.

Arthur said at the committee's Feb. 7 meeting that some of his retail tenants fear their customers will be scared off from parking due to the cost.

Kent City Engineer Jim Bowling and Kent Community Development Department Director Bridget Susel stressed the fact that free parking will remain available downtown — it just won't be directly in front of retail stores.

"There’s this sense that this huge system is going to come into play that’s going to cover the entire downtown, and that’s not really how it’s going to operate," Susel said.

Exactly how the system will operate is yet to be determined, as the parking committee and other city administrators are talking through options for the pay stations, how to address handicapped spaces and how to identify pay spaces during winter months.

One option under review is to program the pay stations to accept tokens that businesses can buy and give to customers to pay for their parking.

Howard Boyle, chairman of the parking committee and president of Hometown Bank, said he plans to cover the cost of parking for bank customers.

"I would think the retailers intend to do the same thing," Boyle said.

How the city will enforce the paid parking is another aspect of the program that's under review.

Kent Service Director Gene Roberts said enforcement should be easier because the pay stations will transmit data to an enforcement officer about which spaces are paid for or expired.

Roberts added that the program can and will be adjusted.

The paid parking system is expected to be up and running by this fall.

"I think there’s a whole lot more detail we need to flesh out to implement this," Arthur said.

Wilburforce February 18, 2013 at 12:01 PM
I believe the retailers better plan on handing out tokens to customers ! I also believe Parking Meters have the ability to breed and reproduce ....
Pat February 18, 2013 at 12:34 PM
I will not shop at the downtown businesses if I have to walk in all kind of weather and pay for parking. The main business area should be a free parking to encourage shoppers. Any new parking areas should be for the local workers.
Chris (Kit) Myers February 18, 2013 at 01:03 PM
So what's the problem? Jim Bowling and Bridget Susel have the situation well under control. The customers of Mr. Arthur's tenants can park free on Gougler Avenue.
Laurel Myers Hurst February 18, 2013 at 01:09 PM
Agreed. Some tech company has come in, hooked our city planners by the nose and convinced them they have to buy their product. Period. This plan will kill business in the winter and kill citizen morale all year 'round. I think everyone was excited about the renovations and wanted to support downtown business even though everything is more expensive there than they can get elsewhere. Expecting businesses to pay parking out of their meager profits? Brilliant move (sarcasm intended). City of Kent, please don't mess this up.
Teresa K. February 18, 2013 at 01:41 PM
A few weeks ago when the Parking Station story hit the Patch, I called Charlotte,NC DOT and asked how the plan was working there. It works good for them because their city is so big. They tried 3 different station types to see what worked best for them. I asked "C", who took a half hour from her day to humor me with all my questions, "what is to keep me from parking and going shopping and never taking a ticket or paying the station?" She said: "well, our Enforcement Agent/Officer makes sure that doesnt happen". So... there will be a need for another employee. Our current compliance officer cannot be expected to handle all this nonsense alone. re: " Gene Roberts said enforcement should be easier because the pay stations will transmit data to an enforcement officer about which spaces are paid for or expired." ok.... so what if I never take a ticket, just park and go shopping?
BackyardChickens4Life February 18, 2013 at 01:45 PM
Yep, this is so ignorant and greedy. They are not looking to make money of the meters - rather off the tickets issued. This downtown development project has lost it's way and is doomed for failure..... so very many missteps downtown....
The Omnipotent Sponge - Soak it up! February 18, 2013 at 02:03 PM
Wow, Kent is doing all this silly stuff but where are the recycling bins downtown? We're so trashy anymore.
Chris (Kit) Myers February 18, 2013 at 02:04 PM
I'm sure Jim Bowling and Bridget Susel spoke to Mr. Arthur's tenants and got their input regarding paid parking before deciding to implement the system. If people will not pay for parking and go elsewhere to do business, Mr. Arthur always has the option of selling his buildings. Welcome to the big city!
The Omnipotent Sponge - Soak it up! February 18, 2013 at 02:04 PM
Also, Kent is not a destination. If you're in Kent, you might patronize downtown, or you'll get in your car like most Americans and travel to a destination of your choice. Probably with free parking, or at least with good restaurants and retail establishments.
John Bard February 18, 2013 at 02:11 PM
The Kent Parking Action Committee, along with The Architectural Review Board are groups trying to control their own little world at the expense of the residents of the city of Kent. The Parking Action Committee even allows nonresidents to sit on the board. How many, if any, of the current members are not residents of The City of Kent? These people are spending tax dollars for pay stations at a cost in excess of $350,000.00.
Rick Hawksley February 18, 2013 at 03:03 PM
http://kent.patch.com/blog_posts/why-i-want-to-pay-for-parking
Char February 18, 2013 at 04:49 PM
Welcome to the big city? Where would that be..we are NOT a big city nor should we be trying to be. While the redevlopment is great, this piece of the puzzle (parking issue) is just rediculous. "If you build it, they will come" NOT if they have to fight for parking, pay for it on top of their visit and deal with ticketing. Neither should business owners have to reimburse shoppers. At what point? Must spend $$$ for a stupid token? May as well paid the parking. Or-they lose money. Truly a bad idea all the way around for Kent to get into!
Donald S February 18, 2013 at 05:40 PM
dont they already have a guy who checks on people in spots? drives around town in that tiny jeep with his piece of chalk?
Jim Williams February 18, 2013 at 05:51 PM
It would be nice if some would stop stating their preferences as if they were speaking for the entire community. I would happily pay a small fee to park closer to a business, or I can choose to enjoy a nice stroll, as I often must now, to park away from my destination. Neither choice will deter me, or many others, from patronizing businesses. Just because you may choose to go elsewhere, doesn't speak for the masses. Remember, no parking is actually free - your tax dollars are partially (to a VERY small extent) paying for their use, upkeep and enforcement. This just helps make the choicest spots more available to more people by discouraging long-term parking.
Donald S February 18, 2013 at 06:12 PM
I thought the parking cop was there to make sure those choicest spots available by issuing tickets?
Fred Pierre February 18, 2013 at 07:40 PM
With the new meters proposed and the charge for the parking deck, those few free spaces are going to be in great demand.
Resident of Kent February 18, 2013 at 09:29 PM
In any city I have witnessed meters that came up- the next step is ALWAYS paid parking LOTS. That will be what comes next.
John Bard February 18, 2013 at 10:47 PM
Since Mr. Hawksley Parking Board member doesn't want to reply where he doesn't have the last word. Would someone ask him if he voted to keep meters from the public parking in front of his home and next door property he owns.
Sa;;y February 19, 2013 at 12:33 AM
I don't have to worry about parking meters downtown. I haven't had a raise in five years. Because of health insurance my take home pay goes down each year. My medical costs have gone up, my property taxes, my electric, my gas, my water, sewer & recycling, my phone, my groceries, my car repairs, I could go on and on and on. I don't have anything left to go shopping. Therefore, I won't need to pay to park in this wonderful city that now wants me to help build a new police station and approve an 8 mil levy for the schools.
Pat February 19, 2013 at 12:39 PM
WHY should the tentants on Water Street be forced to park on Gougler?? Give me a break. Everyone is so right about high priced stores and so little parking. Not proper planning by the city. So they wanted our downtown to look like Hudson. Hudson does not have patrons pay to shop in their many wonderful stores. I will go to Hudson before shopping in downtown Kent and then pay for parking--NOT! The city needs to think of a different way to make money or they will have vacant stores in their new city.
Rick Hawksley February 19, 2013 at 12:51 PM
Mr. Bard, I am no longer on the parking committee. When on City Council I advocated that all parking owned by the public should be charged rent. It is public property used for private purposes, even if for small increments. While on the committee I advocated that on street parking downtown should be used overnight by downtown residents as it is in many cities, and for a fee. As I understand it the technology being considered can be rate adjusted. Everyone who uses the downtown should help pay for it. Only tax payers are currently paying for it currently. The half million or more that the city is currently paying to subsidize downtown parking every year could best be used elsewhere, including off-setting the deficit.
Rick Hawksley February 19, 2013 at 12:55 PM
We have plenty of parking, and with the deck, actually probably a surplus, so long as it is used efficiently. The only way to make that happen is for people to pay market rate. Hudson is losing more than a million a year on downtown development because it does not charge for parking. Again, free parking is a misnomer. What we will have is user pay parking instead of public pay parking.
Teresa K. February 19, 2013 at 01:49 PM
Sa;;y: I'm with you. "Shopping" to me means venturing out for basic necessities. I dont worry about parking downtown either. There is nothing there for me... except my bank. And seriously, if I couldnt get to my bank due to parking, I would simply get a new bank that has a parking lot. I think the ONE TICKET that downtown visitors get- for parking too long or in the wrong spot- will deter most folks from returning to downtown to shop.
Benjamin J. Plough February 19, 2013 at 08:53 PM
"(It) is user pay parking instead of public pay parking:" That sounds like conservative nonsense. In that case, why don't we set up toll booths at either end of 59 and 43 and just charge everyone to even take a car into town? That is how Manhattan does it right? And where was this type of thinking when the city publicly put everyone's backs into all the redevolopment support effort? Hudson doesn't charge for parking because less customers would head that way. Check out Legacy Village: The lots fill up and the pay spaces around the storefronts remain vacant. That is in an area where people go to buy high end goods and for fine dining. I am glad my lease is running out in Kent, it is becoming a nightmare for parking. And that parking deck, the be-all-end-all: Isn't that going to be a pay lot? Mr. Hawksley is painting a picture of a simple world, where people don't change their behavior when obstacles appear. His vision is one where downtown Kent is a gold-mine.
Donald S February 19, 2013 at 09:17 PM
Seriously, I want to know. What will happen to the guy drives around in the police Jeep all day? No way do I expect him to walk around downtown all day long checking meters. All he does now is chalk tires and comes back in 2 hours. After they put these parking meters in will the city lay him off? Is he retiring? The city will have to hire more police or meter maid type of people to watch these meters? Maybe we can let Kent State's parking services check on parking downtown since it's more like the City of Kent State instead of City of Kent.
Jessica Johnson Salamon February 20, 2013 at 05:38 PM
A group with whom I meet regularly has been attempting to use downtown venues as meeting places throughout all of the construction hassle. We have had members skip meetings as a result of frustration over parking. Add paying for parking to the mix and we will just find a more convenient place to meet.
Jessica Johnson Salamon February 20, 2013 at 06:41 PM
I was thinking about this as I drove through downtown on my way to drive my son to preschool. While there are a lot of cute shops downtown that I like to explore, there are none that I consider necessary shopping for my family so if pay parking were added to the mix of the hassles of getting to the downtown shops, I would probably just go elsewhere.
Donald S February 20, 2013 at 08:07 PM
Ive gone downtown at all hours of the day and evening. Parking has never been a problem down there. If you want to want to pay to park, go park in the new garage when it is done. Sure I have had to turn the corner a few times or park a block down the road but I always fine a spot. Keep the streets free as they have been for as long as I know and get in line with other communities such as Stow and Hudson.
Shannon February 21, 2013 at 09:11 PM
Obviously Donald S works for the city...or has never tried to find a place to park on his lunch hour. 'Nuff said.

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