CARRBORO – An issue that continues to trouble Carrboro is the lack of parking in down town. Town staff said that there are now only eight free public lots open, with a total of 474 spots available during the day, some with a two-hour limit.
This has left many visitors and employees who work in down town in a pinch as to where to park.
That’s why the Board of Aldermen passed a motion at Tuesday’s meeting to hold a public parking forum in January to talk about possible parking solutions. They also decided to immediately start a dialogue with downtown business owners who have available parking and those who need spaces.
Town staff said that private parking agreements between down town businesses have proved to be a viable solution. Alderperson Damon Seils championed the sharing of available parking spaces, saying that he was uncomfortable with the Town encouraging the employees of private business owners to park in public spaces.
“To me that is the primary solution that we ought to be taking to this particular issue—to make private parking-sharing arrangements,” Seils said.
The Town’s long-term parking study will not be complete until the summer of 2015. Alderperson Jacquie Gist said that short-term solutions are necessary.
“Just over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been hearing from a lot of small businesses who are suddenly feeling very stressed [about parking],” Gist said. “The people along Main St.—near Weaver Street Reality, and some of the small ones— with the closing of a lot near the Armadillo Grill, that has really stressed them.”
Due to construction, the Roberson lot is currently closed, resulting in a loss of 36 spaces.
Annette Stone, Carrboro’s Economic Development Director, presented the details about the parking situation in downtown to the Board. She stated that shared private parking agreements between down town businesses have proved to be a viable solution.
However, there are a growing number of employers who depend on public parking as a way to accommodate employee parking for their businesses. The number of requests to issue special parking privileges is growing as well.
“As a staff, this presents us with a problem of how to enforce parking limits and not negatively impact the businesses,” Stone said.
Strictly enforcing the two-hour limit in some lots has proven to be a catch-22 for the Town.
“Then there are the unintended consequences of catching people in our enforcement net that we didn’t intend,” Stone said. “We are trying to prevent people from parking, riding and walking out of down town, [but] we are catching our employees that are down there. It just shined a big light in our face of what we have had to deal with.”
Stone left the board to consider a variety of options. One of which was converting free parking spaces to metered spaces with a two-hour limits; after the two free hours were up, people would have pay to park.
Stone also announced that the Town launched recently a new website called ParkCarrboro.com which will help residents find out which lots are free and open for use.