Thursday, April 25th, 2019

City shares update on downtown parking

Posted: Friday, February 1, 2019

Submitted by the City of Huntington

The number of public parking spots in Huntington’s downtown area has increased by 20 since early 2016, thanks to the City of Huntington’s acquisition and construction of new parking lots at Schenkel Station, Rotary Park and the Huntington County Annex.

More recent changes have opened up several public parking spaces in city-owned lots downtown, where a number of spaces had been converted to permit parking only to make up for similar spots that will be lost when a new police station is built in the city-owned lot on Cherry Street.

Currently, a total of 49 two-hour parking spaces inside city-owned lots downtown are available to the public, as well as more than 200 parking spaces on downtown streets, according to figures compiled by Huntington Police Chief Chad Hacker. In addition, there are now 129 permit spots in city-owned lots downtown.

The number of parking spaces available to the public was reduced by about 70 when permit parking spots in the city lot on Cherry Street were shifted to other city-owned lots in the downtown, which will be lost when a new police station is built there. The relocated permit spots replaced spaces that were previously available to the public. The shift was approved November 5 by the Huntington Board of Works and Public Safety and took effect January 1.

“Motorists, mainly employees of downtown businesses, pay a monthly fee in return for a space in a permit spot. There’s a waiting list for those permits,” according to Hacker.

After owners of some downtown businesses expressed concerns about the loss of public parking, particularly in a city-owned lot between Washington and Market streets. Hacker and the business owners came up with a solution to open more spaces in that lot and two others to the public. Under the agreement, some of the employees will give up their permit spots in three city-owned lots and instead rent parking spots in several privately-owned lots nearby.

That opens up 12 two-hour parking spaces for the public in the lot between Washington and Market streets – six on the Washington Street end and six more on the Market Street end. Four additional two-hour spaces for the public were opened up in a city lot east of the LaFontaine Center. Two additional permit spaces were created in the annex lot and two in the Schenkel Station lot. The latest change received approval from the Board of Works on January 21.

Hacker notes that permit spaces are reserved only from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Outside of those hours, anyone can park in those spots. The parking situation downtown isn’t all that dire, said Hacker.

“I started watching that lot (between Washington and Market streets) last summer,” he said, “In preparation for the eventual construction of the new police station. There were a lot of parking spots back there that were not being utilized.”

A fire that destroyed a large building on the corner of Market and Cherry streets played into Hacker’s decision to recommend that the lot between Washington and Market be converted to all permit parking.

He continued, “That had a barber shop, attorneys’ office, four to six apartments, all people needing parking. That’s all gone now, as well as the need for those spots, because of that unfortunate fire.”

Nevertheless, Hacker plans to assemble a committee made up of representatives from downtown businesses, the Huntington County Chamber of Commerce and the Huntington Police Department to select an outside consultant to study the parking situation in downtown Huntington. Once a consultant is selected, all stakeholders will be invited to attend a series of public meetings to provide input.

“I anticipate the study will be complete sometime mid-summer,” Hacker says.