Parking problems in downtown Johnstown dominated discussion at the Old Town committee's first community forum last Monday.

Parking problems in downtown Johnstown dominated discussion at the Old Town committee's first community forum last Monday.

His Word business owner Fran Cantwell said two-hour parking along Main Street needs to be enforced. She also noted the need for handicap parking.

Old Town committee member Marvin Block said two-hour parking hasn't been enforced for a long time, and many business owners park in front of their businesses instead of leaving spots open for customers.

Police Chief Don Corbin said his department spent a month writing parking citations, and he received complaints from one of the Main Street businesses.

"You either want tickets written or you don't," he said. "We would have to write tickets in Rolling Meadows too. I'll dedicate an officer to parking."

Corbin said parking tickets range from $20 to $40, depending on the violation.

Evelyn Bailey Cashdollar, of Bailey's Barber Shop, said parking has been a downtown problem over the years.

"Before the street trees, there were painted spots," she said. "I think taking the trees out will help."

She also expressed concern about eliminating the traffic light at Pratt.

"From 3:30 to 6 p.m., there's continuous traffic," she said. "They will have to sit at the stop sign and have to wait and dodge."

Village manager Judy Edwards said hours could be limited for left-hand turns like Williams Street.

Main Street Café's Jim Wolgamot said handicap spaces in the slants by the old town hall are filled most of the time by apartment tenants. He also expressed concern about losing parking along Main Street due to the state Route 37 and U.S. 62 intersection safety improvements.

Edwards said parking along Main on the town hall side will be reduced by four or five spaces and by one space on the opposite side.

"I'm really concerned about loss of parking," Wolgamot said. "It really affects me. I have traffic (at the restaurant) throughout the day."

He said businesses need parking spots available for customers.

"We have to look at ways to increase parking," he said.

Johnstown received approval in late 2008 for a $1.2-million safety grant through the Federal Highway Act to improve the intersection of U.S. Route 62 and state Route 37. The money is administered through the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Johnstown's project will include new traffic signals at the intersection, dedicated turn lanes in all directions, repaving, stamped concrete at the intersection, streetscape improvements and consolidated parking.

Edwards said the project is also being funded through the Licking County Area Transportation Study.

"This is an opportunity to have major improvements done," she said. "There will be a series of final improvements sent out for design."

Final engineering is expected to take six to eight months, with the project to be bid in April 2011 and completion scheduled for November 2011.

The project enables greater pedestrian safety, Edwards said.

She said a bench will be lost by the clock tower, but a concession is to keep parking by Main Street Café and Edward Jones.

"We're not pleased about losing the bench," she said, "but parking is an issue brought out."

Resident Charlie Kramer questioned the possibility of slant parking along Main instead of parallel parking, or slant parking on one side of the street and parallel on the other.

Edwards said the idea could be examined but pulling out of slant parking on a state route is almost impossible.

"I'm afraid we wouldn't meet the right of way requirement," she said.

ODOT has tentatively scheduled a public hearing about the project beginning at 5:30 p.m. on March 9 at Johnstown Council Chambers.