Anyone wanting a prime spot in New Albany's public parking lot in Market Square might have to settle for a one-hour time limit during business hours.
Short-term parking spaces and spots for expectant mothers are two of the changes New Albany City Council on May 1 made for the city lot and nearby on-street parking to accommodate busy afternoon hours.
The changes include restricting 35 spaces to one hour from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The city also will include four ADA spaces and create two spaces for expectant mothers.
In addition, rows of shrubs in the lot will be removed and replaced with mulch.
Changes target the 421-space portion of the lot closest to retailers. The entire city-owned lot stretches to the Philip Heit Center for Healthy New Albany, 150 W. Main St., and contains 706 spaces.
Meanwhile, a total of 125 on-street parking spaces on Market and Main streets and Village Hall Road will be designated as two-hour parking.
Mayor Sloan Spalding and council members Marlene Brisk, Mike Durik, Chip Fellows and Glyde Marsh voted in favor of the changes; President Pro Tempore Colleen Briscoe and council member Matt Shull voted against the changes.
Shull said he voted no because he thinks the city should add additional parking spaces in the area where the shrubbery will be removed.
Briscoe said one-hour parking spots sit empty nearly all day except during lunch.
The parking lot usually is at 75 percent capacity during peak times, during the late lunch hour, said Jennifer Chrysler, the city's community-development director. At other times, the lot is less than 30 percent full, she said. The city likely has an issue with how spaces are being used, she said.
Kasey Kist, who owns Freshii at 160 W. Main St., said business is down 15 to 20 percent during rainy weather.
Customers want to get in and out of his eatery in an efficient manner, he said.
"It is obscene just watching people drive up and down that parking lot all day long just looking for spots," Kist said.
The short-term parking decision continues a conversation council members had in March about parking solutions in Market Square.
City leaders immediately will implement the short-term solutions City Council approved, Chrysler said. After that, they will discuss how the changes are working with business owners who attended the May 1 meeting.
At the same time, the city could develop long-term plans for the parking lot, she said.
Council members pre-viously had discussed the option of repainting the lines in the lot to create more spaces.
City leaders have not collected enough data to know whether restriping the lot would mean rearranging the spots or shrinking them in size, Chrysler said.
Resurfacing and restriping the lot would cost an estimated $1.5 million and could add more than 150 spaces, according to MKSK, a Columbus-based landscape-architect firm that worked on a strategy for the area that included a way to add parking spaces.
City leaders hope to get as much voluntary compliance as possible for the short-term parking restrictions, said Adrienne Joly, New Albany's director of administrative services.
Police enforcement, such as ticketing, potentially could become an option, too, she said.