Midway Council Working On Deal To Increase Parking Near Town Center

At their Tuesday meeting, Midway City Council swore in Lisa Kohler Orme for another term, as well as first-term council members Steve Dougherty and Kevin Payne. One of the first items discussed by the new council was parking.

At their first meeting of 2020, Midway City Council considered an ordinance to amend their code regarding Festival Market Business Licenses, in order to incentivize the creation of public parking. Midway City planner Michael Henke introduced the idea.

“Basically what would happen is if you’re in the overlay zone, a property owner could develop their private property for public parking, enter into an agreement with the city, and in return, the property owner would have the ability to have 3rd party booths during Swiss days on their property,” Henke explained.

Midway resident Jennifer Mangum owns Spruce, a business located at the corner of 200 West and Main. After noting the lack of parking for her customers and other businesses close by. Mangum says she considered developing a nearby empty lot she owns into parking.

“I thought about leasing it to the different businesses, and then I thought well we could make this a lot cleaner and offer free parking,” Mangum continued. “But for me to do that I thought, Swiss days, I can earn revenue from that. To me, it felt like a fair trade. I’ll develop it, it’s private property. So, I’m bearing the risk. I’m offering it to the city, but I do need to be able to make revenue off of it. So, I’m not going to do it if I can’t make revenue off it. I mean it is a business deal, but I also live in Midway and I want to help the city.”

City staff has estimated that Mangum’s lot could be turning into 30 parking spots to be used throughout the year. Council did have some concerns, including the fairness of the booths without fees to the Midway Boosters who sponsor Swiss Days. Arguing the more booths allowed off town square detract from traffic within the square while not paying for the infrastructure of the festival.

Councilmember Jeff Drury asked that city staff study the issue a bit more and speak with the Midway Boosters, to make sure and avoid unintended consequences.

“I guess I’m having a hard time figuring out exactly what this ordinance change will do except for one use case,” Drury said. “I think it works very well for one use case.”

Councilmember Steve Dougherty asked two questions as the discussion wrapped up.

“One, are we willing to grant permits tomorrow that we haven’t yesterday,” Dougherty asked. “Under current circumstances, you can’t get a permit without doing the parking. Two, we’re using free year-round parking as currency. OK, do we want to limit it just to booths and maybe it has application otherwise?”

The council continued the item, likely to return to the agenda at their meeting on January 21st.

Read the original story at KPCW.org