Kent City Council votes to change parking on West Main Street bridge

Kent City Council discusses parking on the West Main Street bridge while looking at an image from The Chestnut Burr, 1970s.

Kent City Council met Wednesday, Oct. 1, and passed a motion to change parking on the West Main Street bridge.

The main argument focused on whether parking on the bridge should be parallel or diagonal, free or metered or if there should be any parking on the bridge at all. Other questions that arose from this were attractiveness and usage, problems with car doors and curb height, beautification to the entrance of the city and how this would affect bikers and PARTA buses.

One member of the audience spoke to Council about the importance of parking on the bridge. He said he owns a business in that area, and it is the most convenient parking for his customers.

“I make a motion to keep parking on the bridge as is and how it has been explained, with the possibility of exploring paid parking later on,” proposed Heidi Shaffer, Ward 5. She added that attractiveness needs to take a backseat to utility for now. Shaffer said she felt changing to parallel parking would create a challenge for citizens and possibly create more traffic problems.

However, Garret Ferrara, Ward 1, made a second motion to switch to parallel parking with the option to explore paid parking in the future. This motion was passed.

Live tweets from Kent City Council meeting
Live tweets from Kent City Council meeting

A lengthy discussion was held on this, as well as parking meters and the parking deck. “We’ve made a bunch of changes downtown,” said Dave Ruller, City Manager. He said that 225 parking meters will be installed in the near future.

City Council meets every Wednesday, but the first Wednesday of each month is used to discuss a variety of topics. The major points on the agenda were parking, an update on the new police facility and a new student housing opportunity.

Shaffer asked who is utilizing the parking deck, and the answer was unknown at the time. She said it’s important to note if it’s businesses, students, workers or people heading down to the River Walk.

“Parking is what most people come up to me to talk about,” Shaffer said during a break in the meeting. “Everyone has an opinion on parking. We are urbanizing, though. You go to Pittsburgh and people can parallel park in the tiniest spaces. So you know, people get better at it, especially if they have to.”

A presentation was given on the 15-month design process of the new police facility. The meeting ended with a brief presentation on the possibility of new student housing on the corner of Depeyster and Summit streets, which would require acquisition of the building where City Council meets.

A special council meeting was to be held and led by Mayor and President of Council, Jerry Fiala, but the public meeting was ended at 10:08 p.m. According to Wayne Wilson, Ward 3, the session on the eminent domain of properties for the new police facility was canceled due to a mistake in the legislation that needs to be fixed before it can be signed or even discussed. “We want to make sure we get the right land,” he added. More details will be discussed on acquiring those properties later this month.

Google map of Kent City Council, West Main Street and Kent State University:

Map of Kent CIty Council, Kent State and West Main Street
Map of Kent City Council, Kent State and West Main Street, the bridge where parking will now be parallel instead of diagonal.