Charleston leaders present parking study to community members

Gazette-Mail file photo
A parking meter ticks away in front of the city parking garage on Summers Street.

Downtown business owners and Charleston leaders discussed the city’s recently released parking study at a community meeting Thursday night.

The study, which was first presented at a city council meeting in June, was completed last Fall.

One of the first steps to improve parking, said Sherry Risk, executive projects administrator with the city manager’s office, is to spruce up parking garages, especially an underutilized garage next to Park Place Stadium Cinemas at the corner of Summers and Washington streets.

Data from the study shows that Charleston has more than enough parking spaces downtown, but the three other garages in the downtown business corridor end up gaining more daily revenue despite having less daily parking spaces.

“There is enough parking,” Dan Vriendt, the city’s planning director, said. “It’s just not used as efficiently as it could be.”

About 23% of the city’s 2,339 parking garage spaces are for on-demand daily parking. There also are about 1,000 on-street parking spaces.

One solution would be to make sure pricing for metered street parking matches city garages. Currently it’s cheaper to park at a 2-hour meter than to park in a city garage.

The city also hopes to establish public parking on the first floor of parking garages and new digital signs that would show availability in each garage.

Risk said they also would like to remove outdated gates at the McFarland Street, Summers Street. and Shanklin (on Virginia St. next to City Hall) garages, giving hang tags to monthly parking customers instead. Manual meters would be installed on the rooftop deck of these garages

The city also plans to install 200 new smart parking meters downtown that would allow people parking to pay using a mobile app as well as with quarters.

The smart parking meters would also allow the city to count the area’s occupancy rates and notify parking enforcement when someone has parked in a space longer than the time they paid for.

There’s no official timeline yet for the arrival of the smart meters. Risk said they plan on putting out a request for proposals for the meters in November or December.

The city will continue to have quarterly meetings for feedback on parking, and will initiate a public information campaign as soon as changes are made.

The full study is linked.

Reach Ali Schmitz at ali.schmitz@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4843 or follow @schmitzmedia on Twitter.

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