downtown parking

BG Council moves ahead on buying downtown property

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green City Council took the first steps Monday to create more metered parking downtown, provide restrooms for Wooster Green, and preserve the location of Four Corners Center. Council evoked an emergency clause so it could have both the first and second readings of an ordinance for the issuance of $890,000 in bonds for buying four parcels of land on South Church and South Main streets. But one citizen, Nathan Eberly, questioned whether or not the city could handle such an expense. “After hearing for two years that we have budget issues,” Eberly said. “What risk is the city taking that might be an undue burden?” Eberly also criticized the council for pushing ahead on the issue, without allowing for three separate readings to give the public an opportunity to speak on the land purchase. Council assured him that while the bonds ordinance was moving along quickly, the actual property purchase would be given three separate readings. Some on council tried to explain the wisdom in the property purchase. “Mr. Eberly raises a legitimate question,” council member Bruce Jeffers said. “We have to be careful,” Jeffers agreed. However, the land became available and city officials saw an opportunity. “We tend to look at the big picture and the long term,” Jeffers said. Council member Sandy Rowland echoed that support for the land purchases. “Sometimes an opportunity falls at your feet,” she said. “You just couldn’t ask for anything better. We had one opportunity to buy it at a good price.” The purchase covers four properties. One parcel is at 119 S. Church St., located just south of the police station. The former Huntington Bank Branch location has been closed for several years, but has drive-up ATM units. The city is interested in building bathrooms there that will serve those using Wooster Green as well as visitors to the downtown area. In addition, the location has been eyed by the city for years as property that could be used to expand the police station. While there are no immediate plans for an expansion, the addition of an improved safety dispatch center is one of the city’s long-term capital plans. The out-of-state owner of this property recently contacted city officials…


BG may buy land downtown; build restrooms by Wooster Green

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green officials are taking steps to purchase land for public restrooms by Wooster Green, parking areas on South Church Street and the home of the Four Corner Center on South Main Street. On Monday evening, City Council will hear the first reading of an ordinance for the issuance of $890,000 in bonds for buying four parcels of land on South Church and South Main streets. One parcel is at 119 S. Church St., located just south of the police station. The former Huntington Bank Branch location has been closed for several years, but has drive-up ATM units. The city is interested in building bathrooms there that will serve those using Wooster Green as well as visitors to the downtown area. In addition, the location has been eyed by the city for years as property that could be used to expand the police station. While there are no immediate plans for an expansion, the addition of an improved safety dispatch center is one of the city’s long-term capital plans. The out-of-state owner of this property recently contacted city officials to discuss the building. The landowner also owns a nearby parking area behind Ben’s and the building at 130 S. Main St. – the current home of the Four Corners Center. According to the council agenda, the property owner said that all the parcels will be sold together. While city officials are not interested in owning the Four Corners Center building, they recognize the community value of that site. Located there are the Chamber of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureau, Downtown BG, and Economic Development office. The lease for that building expires on Dec. 5, 2020. So, if the city acquires the LLC that owns the building and holds the lease, it can take ownership of the lease – ensuring no changes for the tenants. City officials then plan to sell that building prior to its lease expiring, with a provision that the Four Corners Center be given a lease arrangement for the building with a rental amount set. The cost for the mini-bank area, parking lot behind Ben’s, and building at 130 S. Main St. will be $730,000. But there’s more ….. The building at 123 S. Church…


Parking meter fees in downtown BG are now 50 cents per hour

Parking meter fees for all city lots and side street meters are now 50 cents per hour with a minimum fee of 25 cents for one half hour. Time limits for meters have been raised from two hours to three hours; the time limit for designated 10-hour meters will remain unchanged.  In the near future, kiosks in City Lot 2 will be changed to an updated and more user friendly design. Until these changes are made in City Lot 2, the lot will be enforced for time at a maximum of three hours. Permit fees have been raised to a minimum rate of $130 for a 13-week permit and $520 for a full year permit. The 26 and 39 week permits will remain for sale at an increased rate.Information on the parking rates and fees is available on the City’s website and the Police Division’s website.


BG to view more ‘user-friendly’ parking kiosks for downtown

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As part of the continuing debate over how to pay for downtown parking, a more “user-friendly” kiosk will be demonstrated for downtown and city officials next week. Mayor Dick Edwards expressed some reservations about the new kiosk at Monday’s City Council meeting, but said he is looking forward to seeing a model that is easier for motorists to use. A committee of downtown property owners and business owners has been meeting to study the options of how to pay for parking. The committee is charged with looking at whether the city should continue to charge for parking, or if the property and business owners want to work on a shared cost approach. The cost of parking meters will double in the downtown area if a solution isn’t found. The problem is that the city isn’t making enough from its downtown parking meters to pay for repaving the lots and enforcing parking rules. But the fear is that doubling parking costs will discourage customers from patronizing downtown businesses. The city’s downtown lots – with their 600-plus parking spaces – are struggling due to flat revenue, increasing costs and aging infrastructure. Under a shared cost program, the downtown property owners would be assessed based on their front footage and the benefits to their parcels. The average property owner would pay $220 a year for 20 years. The lowest amount charged would be $30 a year. The highest – to the owner of multiple properties – would be $2,000 a year. Those assessments would generate about $20,000 a year. The concept of the downtown property owners picking up the tab for parking expenses was not supported by the landowners during a meeting earlier this year. However, the business owners have stated they would be willing to share in the expenses if it meant customers wouldn’t have to pay for parking. The benefits of getting rid of parking meters would be multi-faceted. It would be a marketing opportunity for downtown businesses, it would eliminate the need for meter or kiosk replacements, and it would mean the city would no longer have to pay property taxes on the parking lots since they would not be generating revenue. That alone will be an…


Downtown businesses asked to pick up tab for parking

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green leaders have two months to solve downtown parking issues until their time expires. When the time is up, the cost of parking meters will double in the downtown area if a solution isn’t found. On Tuesday evening, Bowling Green City Council Committee of the Whole listened to a proposal for sharing the costs of parking downtown. This proposal – unlike the initial idea to double meter costs to 50 cents an hour – suggests that all parking meters and kiosks be pulled out, and downtown property and business owners be assessed for parking costs. The problem is that the city isn’t making enough from its downtown parking meters to pay for repaving the lots and enforcing parking rules. But the fear is that doubling parking costs will discourage customers from patronizing downtown businesses. The city’s downtown lots – with their 600-plus parking spaces – are struggling due to flat revenue, increasing costs and aging infrastructure. So the options suggested last month included increasing the parking revenue, sharing the costs of maintaining the parking lots, or getting rid of some of the expenses. Other Ohio college communities such as Kent and Oxford charge up to $1 an hour for parking. Toledo charges at least 50 cents per hour. However, no parking meters are used in Perrysburg, Defiance, Waterville, Findlay or Maumee. Tuesday on City Council’s agenda was the third reading of an ordinance increasing the parking rates. Council agreed to table that ordinance to give a task force time to discuss other options. Council President Mike Aspacher suggested that the task force include downtown property owners and business owners. “It’s a critically important component in the success of our community,” Aspacher said. Council member Greg Robinette stressed the need for the group to work quickly, since the parking kiosks in the lot behind Panera need to be updated by December if the city continues to use the kiosks there. “I’d like to force us to move the process along,” Robinette said, suggesting that the task force be limited to two months. “Time is ticking,” said council member John Zanfardino. The city also needs to repave downtown parking lots 1, 3 and 4. That is estimated to…


Cheap parking in downtown BG may soon expire

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Patience has expired with the current parking meter fees to pay for downtown park lot expenses. So on Monday evening, Bowling Green City Council will hear the first reading of an ordinance to double the parking fees from 25 cents to 50 cents per hour. The price hike is proposed because the current parking rates are failing to pay for on-street and off-street public parking expenses in the downtown, explained Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett. All the nickels, dimes and quarters – plus a portion of the parking fines – are supposed to pay for the parking paving, maintenance, enforcement personnel and equipment, parking meters, kiosks, and taxes on the lots. The downtown parking fund gets no support from other city funds. The city’s 2018 budget projected a $21,000 deficit in the parking fund. That hole was filled by the fund’s balance, but that balance is dropping steadily, Fawcett said Friday afternoon. Also looming over the parking budget is the fact that three of the four downtown parking lots need to be paved soon. The only one to be repaved since 2000 is Lot 2,  behind Panera. The proposed fee hikes should not come as a surprise to downtown merchants or the organization which represents them, Fawcett said. “We’ve been trying to tell people as much as we can,” he said. “This is the culmination of conversations over the last couple years.” Downtown businesses were advised of the proposed parking fee hike on City Council’s agenda. “No one seemed surprised by that,” Fawcett said. City officials hope customers coming downtown are not put off by the doubling of the parking fee. Though some may try to avoid pay parking, Fawcett said Bowling Green’s parking will still be a bargain compared to other cities in the region. “We looked around the entire area. Even at 50 cents an hour, we are very competitive,” he said. For at least six years, the parking lot revenue has had difficulty keeping up with the expenses, Fawcett said. In 2013 and 2015, the revenue “just barely” surpassed expenses. In 2014, the city broke even. The last three years, the expenses have been higher than the incoming coins. “It has always been close,”…