German Village Gazette

Village Notebook

Patience requested while committee works on parking

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How long does it take you to find an on-street parking spot in German Village, whether you're shopping, dining or settling in for the evening?

The answers, even in your own household, are probably a little different by day or by time you're parking.

German Village Society created a parking committee in September at the behest of the city of Columbus, and while it is still a work in progress, I thought an update on the effort was in order.

I started paying attention to this issue a year ago when I sat in on an early conversation of the Short North parking committee.

It was clear that in the city's ocean of parking problems, ours are akin to goldfish, compared to the Short North's shark. But we knew we could learn from their process of discovery.

This summer, the city's Mobility Options office (the parking people) asked me to the table to start thinking about how we should approach growing parking problems in German Village.

They'd accumulated a half-dozen complaints or requests for permit-parking changes in the Village and sought the Society's input.

I knew, from reading a bit on current city parking law and from attending the Short North meeting, that one size really can't fit all in a city made up of diverse neighborhoods. I hope by collaborating with the city, we can make regulatory changes that better reflect our needs.

The GVS parking committee has been working to define its mission, values and procedures.

We are still in the development stages; however we have agreed that one cornerstone of our mission statement is balancing the parking needs of visitors, residents and businesses.

Each of those groups contributes to the Society's mission to create a thriving community.

As the 501(c)(3) dedicated to historic preservation and education, it is our duty to live our "Caretakers of a Legacy" slogan and protect this urban gem not just for those who live and work here, but for everyone who wants to visit or come play with us on our bricks.

We are a premier destination in Columbus, and the attractions that bring visitors are the exact reasons many of us choose to live and work here. All need to feel welcome. All need to find a place to park.

Balancing the needs of each group might require all of us to walk more.

The car is not king and visitors, residents and businesses cannot always expect to have parking a few short steps away from their front door.

It is part of the swap-off for experiencing an urban, pedestrian neighborhood built long before Henry Ford got a little idea about combustion engines.

The Parking Committee has also determined that any given parking situation must consider not only the area of concern, but also the adjacent area too.

So as we work with the city, we're asking them to help us study a micro-neighborhood around a problem spot.

We don't want to paper the neighborhood with permit-only parking, because that creates a domino effect for the next street down -- the problem isn't solved, it just moves. In general, we would like to create as few restrictions as possible.

Starting in January, OSU will be conducting a comprehensive German Village parking study and it will be completed by May.

It should give us a better understanding of parking and suggestions for improvement.

In the meantime, we're asking the city to help us slow the pace of new parking permit areas so we don't have a chessboard of new restrictions before we can even understand all of the problems.

For the moment, I'd ask you to lend a little patience as we work to understand.

I have to commend the neighbors who have volunteered their time to create this parking committee, and who are thinking very deeply about how to get it right.

This is a thankless job not geared toward making friends. At some point, some of our dearest neighbors, members, donors, volunteers and friends are likely to be opposed to the committee's approach or decision. But this dedicated group is trying to do what is right for all.

German Village Society Director Shiloh Todorov submitted the Village Notebook column.

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