Bexley News

Guest column

Meter discussion needs residents' input

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On May 27, Bexley City Council is holding a public meeting at 6 p.m. to discuss a proposal for parking meters in the Main Street corridor.

This idea has been discussed from time to time at the city, and was most recently examined by the hard-working Bexley Alternative Revenue Task Force, which in November of 2012 recommended parking meters, among other new revenue ideas, as a way to bring in additional revenue to the city.

City Council has been discussing the concept since, and the ordinance before them is designed to bring the issue to a vote.

I think we need to be careful any time we are exploring new revenue opportunities such as this, to honestly ask ourselves whether the new revenue is worth the cost that comes with it.

In this instance, the cost is potentially borne most directly by Bexley's merchants and businesses, who rely on convenient and accessible Main Street parking infrastructure.

In an ideal situation, meters are used as a tool to regulate and rotate parking spaces in the event of a highly pressured parking environment. Think Short North or downtown Columbus -- areas where parking is perennially difficult to locate, and where meters serve to ensure the efficient turnover of spaces.

We do have pressured parking areas in Bexley at certain times, but generally speaking, when we look beyond the select high-pressure times -- for example at Drexel and Main on a Friday evening -- on-street parking in Bexley tends to be convenient and readily available.

This is perhaps why the Bexley Area Chamber of Commerce has voted against the idea of parking meters in Bexley. One of the ways we will know the time is right for meters is when our merchants come to us first, seeking them out as an aid to facilitate parking.

Bexley's Main Street has an exciting environment and there are big things to come for our first-class, walkable commercial and cultural corridor.

I believe that the time will come -- and it might not be too far down the road -- when meters do make sense and when the time is right. Let's let the need of businesses on Main and the consideration of what is best for our development environment lead our decision-making process.

Let's listen carefully to what our merchants are telling us, and consider what will ultimately bring in revenue -- a strong and dynamic business environment.

Whether or not you believe the time is right for meters on Main Street, City Council needs to hear from you, and I encourage you to attend and participate in the public meeting on May 27.

To learn more about the discussion and read a copy of the proposed ordinance, visit www.bexley.org/meters.

I hope to see you on Tuesday, and until then, I'll see you around Bexley.

Ben Kessler is the mayor of the city of Bexley.

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