Council talks about parking around MC

As Marietta College students return for the 2013-2014 school year, concerns have resurfaced about on-street parking in the general neighborhoods along Fifth and Sixth streets and Whites Lane just north of the college campus.

The longtime issue was discussed briefly during Wednesday’s meeting of city council’s streets and transportation committee.

“Parking spaces on city streets in front of homes are not private spaces, and college kids park there when school is in session,” noted Councilman Denver Abicht, D-at large, who chairs the streets committee.

He said some residents along Sixth Street have expressed concern that parking spaces on the streets near their homes will soon be taken up by incoming students.

“But I don’t know if there’s anything the city or college can do about this,” Abicht added.

Dan Bryant, Marietta College chief financial officer, said one thing the college does to help with the problem is try to limit students bringing cars to school.

“Freshmen are not supposed to have cars unless there are special circumstances like a medical reason,” he said.

Fred Smith, MC’s physical plant director, agreed.

“That’s also a retention issue for us that helps improve enrollment,” he said. “Parents are often appreciative that we don’t allow incoming freshmen to have cars.”

Abicht said council members were hopeful that the new college parking lot along Seventh Street would also help relieve some of the parking concerns in the Fifth and Sixth street areas.

Bryant said college officials would remind students about the availability of on-campus parking and ask them to please be mindful of parking on residential streets.

Councilman Mike McCauley, D-2nd Ward, noted that meetings have been held with neighborhood residents in past years to help address the issue, and resulted in the painting of parking spaces to help alleviate crowding of cars parked along the city streets. He said some spaces have also been designated for handicapped parking only.

City safety-service director Jonathan Hupp said the parking is difficult to enforce because the city cut back on parking attendants after parking meters were removed from city streets and parking lots a few years ago.

He added that police patrols can issue tickets for vehicles parked beyond the 2-hour limit set for on-street parking, but those officers often have to respond to vehicle accidents or other issues that take priority over parking.

Abicht said the college and city would just have to continue doing the best they can to keep the parking situation under control.

In other business Wednesday, Eric Lambert, project manager with the city engineering department, said the department is ready to apply for 2014 citywide asphalt paving funds from the state.

“We’re seeking authorization to submit our annual application to the Ohio Public Works Commission for funding,” he said. “The application is due Sept. 6.”

Lambert said the city is requesting $540,000, which would include $400,000 from the OPWC and a $140,000 match from the city.

Abicht noted that $35,000 of those monies would come from the city’s 2014 Community Development Block Grant entitlement to be used for installation of Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant curb ramps during the paving process.