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Martinsburg City Council discusses results of parking study

January 17, 2002

Martinsburg City Council discusses results of parking study



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Availability of parking in downtown Martinsburg is threatened by motorists who violate the two-hour time limit on parking meters downtown, a parking expert told the Martinsburg City Council Wednesday night.

Many parking meters downtown have a two-hour parking limit, but some motorists feed the meters all day to have a parking spot downtown, said Brad Edwards of Edwards Neff Inc., an Atlanta firm that was asked to do a parking study downtown.

About 18 percent of the people that park downtown are in violation of parking rules, and they use about 39 percent of the available parking time every day downtown, Edwards said.

Edwards said the city needs to focus on getting people who park for long periods of time out of the downtown shopping area and reserve that area for short-term parking.

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The Edwards Neff firm was asked to do the study so the city would be prepared to handle an expected demand for more parking space downtown as the area grows, City Manager Mark Baldwin said.

Baldwin said council members want to have a parking plan in place because of large projects in town that are likely to bring more people downtown. Those projects include the renovation of the B&O Roundhouse, the renovation of the Gateway Hotel, relocating the Boarman Arts Center into a large former federal facility on King Street and the development of Shepherd College's Community and Technical Center on Stephen Street, Baldwin said.

Edwards said there are a number of quick and relatively inexpensive ways to keep short-term parking open to shoppers and visitors downtown:

- Remove parking meters and create free, all-day parking on parts of Burke, Martin, King, John and Stephen streets that are away from the downtown shopping area, Edwards said. This will give people who park long-term downtown a free place to park and free up short-term parking for downtown patrons, Edwards said.

- Enter into agreements with private organizations downtown that have large parking lots. Many churches, for example, use their parking lots only on Wednesdays and Sundays, and the city could enter into agreements with them to open the lots for long-term parking during the week, Edwards said.

- Set up a "parking bank," which is a list of all available parking downtown, including private lots. The list would offer a quick way for people to locate who has long-term parking downtown, how much it costs and other information.

If the city can get long-term parking motorists out of the core shopping area, it will have plenty of parking to meet future needs, Edwards said.

"You have a great downtown, you really do," said Edwards, adding the attractiveness of the city is that it is compact and easy to walk around in. "Just don't ever let it spread out."

Mayor George Karos said he like the ideas in the study, and doesn't want it to go unused.

"We're on the right direction," Karos said.

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