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Parking issues – Silverton businesses look to new civic center area for relief

By James Day

Silverton has held four public outreach meetings on downtown parking issues. The problem is simple: new development in the downtown area has led to parking challenges, for both business customers and their employees.

A possible fix lies just north of downtown where the city is building a new $19 million civic center on property that was once home to Eugene Field School. City departments have outgrown the current City Hall on South Water Street, and that building is seismically unsafe.

City officials already are planning employee and city vehicle parking behind the new building and visitor parking in front. A good chunk of the 2.7-acre plot has been designated for a park, although no designs have been commissioned or completed.

Silverton Inn & Suites has 19 rooms, but just 11 parking spaces. Its guests often must park  elsewhere in downtown.
Silverton Inn & Suites has 19 rooms, but just 11 parking spaces. Its guests often must park
elsewhere in downtown.

Attendees at a Sept. 26 public session at the City Council chambers strongly suggested using the park area of the parcel for parking and open space, perhaps splash pond areas or space that could be used for a farmer’s market.

On hand for the session were Realtors, a dentist, the owner of a dance studio, a developer and the manager of the Silverton Inn & Suites.

City Manager Ron Chandler moderated the discussion, and noted that he would like the City Council to make a final decision on a direction by next fall, when the civic center is slated to open. That council-level discussion is scheduled to begin Oct. 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the Silverton High library on Pine Street.

The addition of new businesses such as Oregon Crafters Market, The Den food cart court and High Water Grill have led business leaders and other community members to raise concerns about parking in the downtown core.

In addition to the civic center parcel, Chandler noted that the council also will be looking at how to handle the four streets that surround the civic center site, which is bounded by Water on the west, A on the north, First on the east and Park on the south. Parking currently is free in that area.

Also among the considerations is what to do with the plot north of A Street, which also is city-owned and currently used as a dog park. Participants in the Sept. 26 session suggested it could be used for a park or perhaps a combo of a park and more parking.

Chandler also moderated a second outreach session Sept. 29. Earlier meetings were hosted by the Silverton Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club.

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