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.