By April King
The Bellefontaine City Council met on Tuesday evening in council chambers during a regularly scheduled meeting.
In a quick report, Mayor Ben Stahler reported parking changes are coming to downtown Bellefontaine and have begun this week.
The growth that Downtown Bellefontaine has seen over the last decade has been phenomenal! The restoration of buildings, storefronts being filled by businesses, and a resurgence in opportunities to live downtown is driving growth and making Bellefontaine a destination. This is evidenced in part by two recent recognitions the city has received, including being named one of Ohio’s Best Hometowns by Ohio Magazine and being ranked as one of the top communities in the country (14 of 494) within an hour of a large city by SmartAsset.
However, along with this growth come growing pains. The city administration saw this as an opportunity to evaluate and improve parking in the downtown area.
In response to this feedback from residents and downtown business owners, the city administration began to take close look at the available parking downtown and what changes might be undertaken to improve the experience of residents and visitors to the downtown area.
To improve the number of available parking spaces, the city built a new parking lot west of the municipal building to be used for city businesses and city employees. In turn, this allowed the conversion of two lots previously utilized for city business (corner of W. Columbus and N. Elm and corner of Watson Way and N. Detroit) to free public parking. For ease of use, $0.50 parking was done away with, and those spaces were converted to free all-day parking. Several other small changes were made to other lots including changing Lot 6 (across from native coffee) and Lot 2 (beside the Holland Theater) to all monthly rental parking, and changing Lot 5 (beside the Olive Tree) to a mix of free all-day parking and monthly rental parking.
The net result of these changes was:
In addition to increasing the number of available spaces, the city will also be implementing overnight parking passes for downtown residents and their guests. Each apartment unit downtown will have the additional option to purchase one overnight rental tag, for $10.50 per month, that can be used in any vehicle, which allows them to park overnight for free in any of the free all-day parking areas downtown. In cases where a resident may have multiple guests staying overnight, additional one-time use overnight passes may be purchased from the Mayor’s Office at a cost of $2.00.
The city is currently working to update the current electric vehicle chargers located in lot 3. The hope is to upgrade the chargers and double the number of available EV charging stations through a reimbursement program with AES Ohio.
Crews from the city Street Department are also in the process of giving each parking lot a facelift with the installation of new signage, which will be consistent from lot to lot. A map showing downtown parking areas will also be available on the city’s website at www.ci.bellefontaine.oh.us.
The council went on to hear several first readings of budget ordinances and second reading of an ordinance to hire a part-time evidence room manager for the Bellefontaine Police Department.
Council is set to meet again on Tuesday, October 25th at 7:30 PM in the Council Chambers.