Downtown parking main concern at Wednesday’s city council meeting

Kent City Council met Wednesday night and discussed an abundant amount of housekeeping issues that was centered around downtown parking. City Council passed a 5-2 vote to include possible parallel parking on the W. Main Street bridge.

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Councilwoman Melissa Long (left), Councilman Wayne Wilson (middle) and City Manager David Ruller (right) discuss the evening’s adenda

The discussion about the bridge between council members was divided, as was other issues that were on the agenda.

W. Main Street bridge, parking meters, sidewalks and other changes to the city’s parking ordinances headlined the opposition between council members.

“We made a bunch of changes downtown since 2007. It seems appropriate to have a review today,” said City Manager David Ruller.

Beauty vs. Utilization 

The debate between making areas of downtown Kent beautiful and beneficial became an issue in how to utilize the downtown parallel parking and sidewalks near the W. Main Street bridge.

The recent renovation of downtown Kent has provided an expectation of quality buildings and businesses. Ward 6 Councilwoman Tracy Wallach said, “We are really making our downtown more attractive now.” The success the city has already had in making downtown more appealing only adds to the pressure to make it even better.

City Councilwoman Melissa Long favored the approach to make downtown more attractive and raised the question, “Do we decide now if we want something more beautiful or aesthetic?”

Ward 5 Councilwoman Heidi Shaffer opposed Long’s approach for downtown Kent parking and made motion to maintain parking as it is for now.

“Aesthetics has to take a back seat right now to utility. I don’t know how parallel parking would work,” said Shaffer.

The other side of the argument was that parallel parking on both sides of the bridge would have potential to sustain the traffic flow better than it is now. A Kent business owner urged congress to add more parking and to not remove the current parking in that area because losing parking on the bridge would hurt the local businesses.

The ultimate conclusion was that council would consider exploring possible options with paid parking on the bridge.

Update on new police station

After a long discussion about public parking, an update on the new police station by the design team was the focus of the second half of the city council meeting.

The new police station will be located between College Street and Depeyster Street, across from the fire station. It’s currently three months into a 15 month process. The three main points of the presentation by Jeffrey Meyers of Dave Sommers & Associates was pre design, site impact and floor plan development. There is projected to be over 100 different rooms in the building, and the most important aspect of the site impact is that it will be easier for officers to get out the station in case of emergencies because of the stations central location.

The meeting concluded with the motion that passed for the potential to build new student housing on the corner of Depeyster Street and Summit Street.

Kent City Council adjourned without discussing the eminent domain process that the city might pursue in acquiring four properties for the new police station located on College Avenue.