Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of five articles exploring the Bexley Alternative Task Force's recommendations and the position paper Mayor Ben Kessler provided in response. Next week: Speed cameras for safety or profit?
When the Bexley Alternative Revenue Task Force submitted its recommendations of options the city should consider, among them was the idea of installing parking meters on Main Street west of Cassingham, on Drexel near Main, and on Pleasant Ridge.
It also recommended a 75-cents-an-hour charge and a two-hour limit.
The task force estimates there are 188 spaces in that area. Given that figure, the task force projects $250,000 annual revenue could result from the meters -- but analysis did not consider additional income potential from parking fines, nor the cost of enforcement.
The task force's recommendations met with some criticism during a mid-January public hearing, as attendees questioned the need for meters in the Main Street business district and city Service Director Bill Harvey pointed out no other central Ohio communities, other than Columbus, have parking meters in their downtown areas.
In response, the recommendations were assigned to specific council committees for further study. Mayor Ben Kessler also crafted a position paper, providing input for consideration.
In reviewing the parking-meter proposal, the city administration contacted various vendors in an attempt to determine costs, Kessler said.
"We also talked to parking-administration personnel in Columbus and Easton," Kessler said. "It should be noted that very few central Ohio suburbs have parking meters."
One of the reasons the Alternative Revenue Task Force recommended parking meters was that merchants do not have access to these parking spaces for customers since they are often used all day with little turnover.
"While this might be accurate in some areas, in other areas restrictions already exist to prevent all-day parking," Kessler said. "Anecdotal information is that all-day parking is not a serious problem. This anecdotal information was gathered through conversations with a variety of local merchants throughout the entirety of East Main Street."
Kessler noted there are benefits to metered parking.
"Aside from providing for additional revenue, metering of parking has a real benefit to merchants in areas where parking is limited and difficult to find," he said. "Meters encourage turnover of parking spaces and therefore provide a more steady supply of parking inventory to customers of Main Street businesses.
"It is not the position of the administration that metered parking should be installed unless installing it does serve to benefit merchants by freeing up otherwise-unavailable parking spaces. Merchant input and merchant needs should be of primary consideration when studying the possibility of metered parking in Bexley," he said.
Further study needed
Kessler said the city administration believes parking meters in selected areas could provide a revenue opportunity and be of benefit to merchants if the parking congestion in Bexley has reached the point where proactive action needs to be taken to encourage rotation of parking spaces.
"Further study must be undertaken to ascertain whether or not this is the case," Kessler said. "Such study should first determine the extent to which simply enforcing current restrictions would free up parking supply. It is recommended that the city hire a part-time parking-control officer to enforce the city's parking restrictions. Such a position should be able to pay for itself and raise at least an additional $20,000 in revenue annually."
Kessler said that if, after enforcement of existing restrictions, it is determined that parking supply is fundamentally short, a review "should include such considerations as hours (and days) of meter operation; feasible hourly rates; market-based assumptions of usage; and a study of various locations on and along Main Street that could best benefit from metered parking."