Uptown CEO: It's too early in process to make parking recommendations

The specter of paying to park downtown is not looming, Uptown Columbus CEO Richard Bishop said Monday.

Following a public hearing Friday during which a consultant proposed charging $1 an hour for on-street parking downtown, Bishop said Uptown Columbus, which commissioned the consultant’s study, is interested in developing a parking plan that will address the expected crowds the whitewater project could bring.

He said Uptown Columbus is not in a position yet to make specific recommendations about parking ordinance changes. That would come after gathering input from business owners and customers, discussing that with their board of directors, which would then take a recommendation to Columbus Council.

“What we want is just a manageable parking plan with everybody knowing that the whole scenario is going to change in the next year,” he said. “We don’t know what the effects of the whitewater project will be.”

Bishop said some uptown business owners floated ideas such as valet parking, designated areas for motorcycle parking during the hearing.

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, who was out of town when the hearing took place, expressed disappointment that it was not well publicized and said Monday that she would make sure the word gets out about future hearings.

In fact, the city sent out a release Monday afternoon announcing three public hearings over the next three weeks to deal with traffic and parking issues that have arisen from the consultant’s recommendations for downtown.

The next public meeting will be Thursday at 5:30, also in the Council Chambers on the Plaza Level of the Government Center. It will be to discuss an urban design consultant’s ideas about traffic flow, including possibly restoring two-way traffic to some currently one-way streets.

The same topics will be addressed at the next meeting, Thursday, March 7, in Foley Hall at the Springer Opera House.

The issue of downtown parking will again be addressed at a meeting Tuesday, March 12, also in Foley Hall.

In addition to emailing the release to media, she said it will be sent to downtown businesses and churches to encourage attendance.

Tomlinson said she has not seen enough data to form an opinion on paid parking downtown, but she did say the city will have to do something to encourage people to use the parking decks downtown.

“We’re going to have be more thoughtful about our parking strategy,” she said. “We’re going to have to incentivize people to use the parking decks that our taxpayers paid millions of dollars to build.”

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