Looking for a parking spot in downtown Powell? Try Depot Street.
The results of a recently released parking study show that street and the Village Green -- the city's largest lot, at 47 Hall St. -- often are underused.
Powell staff conducted a "parking census" from May through July last year -- during peak tourism season and its annual Powell Festival. In addition to Depot Street and the Village Green, it also measured parking use at the 44 Business Center, 44 N. Liberty St. and 45 other on-street spaces throughout the city.
Many downtown establishments restrict parking by those using neighboring businesses, even if the businesses have different operating hours, the census found.
The next step will be to "explore shared parking possibilities in downtown Powell," said Megan Canavan, city spokesperson.
With 113 spots available, the Village Green is the largest lot in Powell. Aside from evening hours, it is rarely above 50 percent capacity, the census found.
By contrast, the 19-space lot on North Liberty Street is the only one in the northeastern area of downtown. The census found it is almost always at capacity.
"The city's Municipal Building lot is often underutilized, so it may just be getting people to know that it's available," Canavan said. "Some people may think the municipal lot is full and they keep going, when really the lot isn't always that full."
There are a dozen spots on Depot Street that don't even register -- during most days of the census, no cars were parked there.
That means the city could consider using those spaces to offset minimum parking requirements at downtown businesses.
Both the parking census and the recent Keep Powell Moving traffic initiative recommended improving signs to better direct visitors to available parking lots.
"We need to do a better job of marketing the public parking lots," Canavan said.
The city has a map of public lots on its website, cityofpowell.us/about/public-parking.
The study stresses that while parking is important, "buildings should be paramount to pavement" in the historic downtown area. About 32 percent of the nearly 930,000 square feet of space in the downtown is parking, the study found.
The city also installed posts in the downtown area where riders can secure their bikes.
"We have a fairly expansive bike-path network. We always want to encourage people to ride their bike or walk to the downtown area," Canavan said.