The demand for parking at the West Side Market and in Ohio City in general is at an all-time high and continuing to grow; and the city of Cleveland is taking steps to improve parking amenities and increase the number of parking spaces available by implementing a consolidation plan that will improve and merge Lots A and B behind the market. However, not everyone fully supports the idea.
"The consolidation plan will increase parking capacity by more than 100 spaces to make it easier for people to get in and out of the parking lot," said Director of Public Works, Michael Cox. "While we are looking to improve parking at the Market in the future, we are simultaneously evaluating our best options to maintain an expedient and efficient flow of traffic during lot consolidation."
To date, the city of Cleveland has secured $2.6 million of the total estimated project cost of $3.3 million through general obligation bonds and grants. The city has hired consulting firm Behnke and Associates to begin design work for the consolidated on-grade parking lot and create the appropriate construction documents for bidding while the remaining $700,000 is being secured.
During the design process, the city will be scheduling various meetings with the West Side Market tenants, Ohio City Incorporated, and Ohio City vendors and stakeholders to collect input on transitioning to paid parking for visitors and shoppers, an option the city is strongly considering. Bidding is expected to occur in the late spring or early summer of 2015, with construction possibly beginning as early as the fall of 2015.
"The proposed West Side Market parking lot project presents a solution that meets the financial and capital needs of the city and the demand for parking for all stakeholders," said Ken Silliman, Chief of Staff for Mayor Frank Jackson. "The project will reduce cut-through traffic, improve security with new lighting and, with paid parking, should increase turn over, allowing more customers to access parking and shop at the West Side Market."
Vendors fear this will chase more customers away.
On any given Saturday or other busy market days, the parking lots behind the market are busting at the seams.
"It's horrible. It's a great place to shop, but it's the first complaint I always get: I don't want to go down on Saturdays," said Terri Frick, of Frickaccio's.
Call it growing pains or poor planning, but there isn't enough parking to accommodate Ohio City's restaurant and bar boom.
"We've known this problem for 15 years. Five years ago it got really bad. It's in crisis mode now. We've gotta figure out how to get that market to go to the year 2114, not just 2014," said Councilman Joe Cimperman.
The city's plans to improve parking has some -- but not all -- vendors thrilled.
"It's very exciting because I can see how it will relieve some of the pressure that's happening right now," Frick said.
Vendor Diane Dever doesn't like the idea of paid parking.
"I think people will reconsider coming down to buy a bratwurst or to buy something for lunch when you have to pay $5 to park," Dever explained.
"How do we prevent people from parking there all day if there isn't some validation or fee structure?" said Cimperman.
What do you think? Would you be alright with paying to park by West Side Market? Weigh in on our Facebook page!