Council considers parallel parking in downtown Monroe

The Monroe City Council took some time last week to consider the pros and cons of converting the parking along Main Street from angle to parallel parking. The idea was introduced last year during discussion on parking time limits, but given only casual consideration.
With construction on the East Main Street portion of the Main Street Plaza project possibly starting next month, and the West Main Street portion of the project in the design phase, Councilmembers Jeff Rasmussen and Kevin Hanford felt that the timing was right for further discussion.
Currently, there are a total of 69 angled parking spaces along East and West Main, a number that is not expected to change in relation to the upcoming construction. If the city were to alter its plans and convert the parking to parallel, there would be between 48 and 50 spaces available. The reduction in available parking was problematic to some council members, particularly in light of recent revitalization discussions.
Rasmussen indicated a supportive position about converting to parallel parking. He explained that fewer parking spaces along Main Street could increase foot traffic in the area, which could actually be conducive to increased interest in the downtown core.
"Parking around the corner isn't that far away and if we have a revitalized downtown that encourages window shopping from our feet versus our cars, parking around the corner isn't such a bad thing,GÇ¥ he said.
Goering took a cautious stance, stating that in order for the downtown to benefit from increased foot traffic, there needed to be a variety of retail establishments down there for people to walk past.
"The loss of spaces, I think, is counter to what we're trying to do,GÇ¥ Goering said. "I'm uncomfortable about the loss of space when we're trying to bring people here. I think that's to our benefit GÇô to have more spots than less.GÇ¥
As much parking as possible
Councilmember Kamp agreed with Goering.
"People I've talked to, for the most part, don't mind parallel parking, but when I mentioned that they're going to lose parking spaces everyone said "No,'GÇ¥ Kamp said. "They want as much parking down there as possible.GÇ¥
Councilmember Patsy Cudaback was in favor of parallel parking. She shared that when she does venture downtown, she actually avoids parking on Main Street and chooses to park on Lewis or one of the other streets that feature parallel parking. The angle-style parking, Cudaback explained, can be difficult to navigate, particularly when a driver is attempting to back out into traffic on Main Street. Visibility is often hampered by large trucks and SUVs, making it challenging for drivers to see if anyone is coming.
Cudaback said that she feels that a conversion to parallel parking would increase safety and contribute to the aesthetic appeal of the street once the Main Street Plaza project is complete. She pointed out that when the matter was studied by the city in the past, findings indicated that much of the downtown parking spaces typically went unused.
"I think it would change the look and feel of downtown,GÇ¥ Cudaback said. "I'm not as concerned [about] losing 19 possible spaces because all the data that we've seen shows that parking is not full downtown.GÇ¥
Councilmember Ed Davis was favorably inclined toward parallel parking.
"I would like to see the parallel parking,GÇ¥ Davis said. "I've seen some other cities that have that and it really does look good. It looks a lot more comfortable and it doesn't look quite as crowded.GÇ¥
Councilmember Hanford began the discussion opposed to parallel parking, but by the end of the conversation, had changed his mind.
"If Councilmember Cudaback will teach my teenagers to parallel park, I would be happy to go with parallel stalls,GÇ¥ Hanford said. "Seriously, after consideration and looking at all of the things involved, I like it; I like the parallel look.GÇ¥
Councilmember Jason Gamble felt that it was important to hear from the business community on any decision related to parking.
Members of the community, including business owners from the downtown area are all invited to provide testimony during a public hearing on Tuesday, March 31 at 7 p.m. at Monroe City Hall. Parking time restrictions, parallel and angle parking will be discussed.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment