Parking challenge – Silverton council set to discuss issue

June 2022 Posted in Business, Community

By James Day

The Silverton City Council is planning a discussion on the challenges of downtown parking. Councilors will review the problem as well as possible solutions at a June 20 work session that also will have action on the 2022-23 budget.

Fueling the discussion was a survey conducted by the Silverton Chamber of Commerce and presented at the council’s May 2 meeting by Stacy Palmer, the chamber’s executive director.

“We sent the survey out to gauge the business community’s concerns about parking after we’d discussed the issue at a weekly Business Group meeting,” Palmer told Our Town. “With new construction, new venues (Oregon Crafters Market) and the loss of the parking area that the former Eugene Field lot provided, folks were starting to voice their concerns.

“We always try to be proactive when it comes to issues in the community, and sharing information with the city and stakeholders to hopefully come to solutions.”

Palmer sent out 260 surveys, with approximately 40 being returned, although she emphasized that she “gave them a very short window”  to return the questionnaires.

Fifty-two percent of those responding said their businesses were “very dependent” on available parking, with 46% indicating it was an “economic issue” for their business. Also, more than 55% of businesses said they needed 4 or more parking spaces for employees. Nearly 13% of businesses need 12 or more spaces for workers.

“I’m concerned,” said Ben Johnston, a developer/investor who has put together the new pastry shop building and the food cart area on Water Street. “The Oregon Crafter’s Market has been a huge addition to the town and we have other great businesses like High Water, Silver Falls Brewery, Guerra’s, the Noble Fox and Magnolia Grill. All of these businesses are run by people who have fixed up their buildings and put a lot of money into them.

“I love Silverton and I love creating spots for people to hang out. And if we fix parking, every business in town will thrive. It’s a win for everybody. I’m open to all suggestions. I want to be part of the solution,” he said.

Among the solutions that were noted in the chamber surveys, Palmer said, were using the parking lots of area churches or the school district, using the Civic Center project to add parking, build a parking garage, use the temporary dog park near the Subway outlet or even work with Safeway and its parking lot on bigger events.

Jason Gottgetreu, the city’s Community Development director, said that the city’s most recent parking audit in 2014 showed 236 on-street metered spaces, 35 in the Lewis Street lot and 14 in the Town Square Park lot. As of that earlier audit there were 280 private parking spaces in 23 private lots “though things have changed since 2014,” Gottgetreu said.

Goittgetreu, who is also the project manager for the Civic Center initiative, said that no final decisions have been made regarding how many parking spaces the complex will include. The building at the north end of the Field block will house city hall and the police department, while a park will be built at the south end of the property. No decision has been made on the fate of the dog park parcel north of A Street.

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