Newark expands on solutions for parking shortages
Managing News Editor
Last May, the city of Newark faced an unlikely issue: a severe “inventory reduction” in parking on and surrounding Main Street. The projected losses in May were up to 252 parking spaces and a potential revenue loss $385,000 for the city government, but those numbers have since decreased due to strides made over the summer months.
The City Council met and reached a decision on what would be the best way to proceed, reducing this projected loss of revenue down to $244,000 for the city’s 2020 fiscal year. They also came to a consensus regarding parking spots while keeping in consideration the impending build of the new Hyatt Hotel.
However, this decision does include the removal of some residential parking on side streets near and around Main Street.
Four streets specifically will be affected beginning September 9th, with the most heavily affected street being Haines Street. However, this decision has created over 40 new parking spaces. Haines’ public parking was extended south to Lovett Avenue, so students holding residential parking permits must now park on Continental Avenue or other surrounding parking streets.
Lovett Avenue, which originally disallowed street parking, is now public parking. Center Street’s residential parking will be transformed into public parking as well, moving up into New Street. However, as North Chapel Street is now solely dedicated to residential parking, the Parking Division believes this allocation will make up for the residential spaces lost on Center.
James Horning Jr., the council member for District 1, noted that the pace of the construction being conducted on Main Street affects parking inventory directly, as does all the metered parking the city must add. The construction of the new Hyatt Hotel on Main Street will also affect the use of Lot #3 behind M&T Bank in the future. The project’s equipment will fill most, if not all, of the lot when construction formally begins around Halloween.
The city also plans to utilize Lot #1, behind Main Street’s Galleria, adding an extra 43 spaces. Horning stated that although this was planned to be finished before the end of the summer, the current timeline shows it will be completed either during the university’s spring break or after its graduation.
Courtney Mulvanity, parking supervisor for the city, noted that, contrary to what residents and students may have assumed, much progress was made over the summer.
A huge development was city council approving the budget for T2 Multi-Space Kiosks, License Plate Recognition (LPR) enforcement and Pay-by-App parking technologies.
Their LPR system, also known as the pay-by-plate payment method, allows for the removal of parking gates as well as a new application to pay-by-app. Mulvanity described this as a “double verification” of ticketing, wherein parking ambassadors respond to ‘pings’ when individuals may not pay the system.
“This is not one project, but four projects that tie into each other,” Mulvanity said in an email. “Each technology is new for us, where training is required, policies need to be discussed, codes need to be passed, equipment installed, etc.”
The Parking Division does think that the university’s students will approve of the “Passport Pay-by-App.”
“You never have to stand in line at a machine ever again. You can extend time from the classroom or stay in the car and pay on a rainy day. You also won’t have to wait at a gate to get out of a parking lot,” Mulvanity said.
Horning said that city council took into consideration students who drive to class, offering metered parking locations at a discounted rate— $0.25 for 12 minutes from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m.
In short, as Mulvanity described, “We will be returning to our ‘50 cents per 30 minutes’ rate, rather than the ‘$1 per hour’ rate that we’ve had the last couple of years.”
However, the newer meters on Lovett and Haines Streets will have rates of $0.25 for 15 minutes.
Mulvanity went on to say that they are on schedule “for the most part,” although the Parking Division would have liked to have the project done before students returned for the new semester.
“Mid-summer we knew that goal would be extremely difficult to hit due to multiple construction projects and hardware installs that would take longer than expected,” Mulvanity stated. “We want to ensure that users have a good experience when the systems go online, which is more important to us than getting it done fast. We want to get it done right.”
Horning described some of the progress and discoveries over the summer made after the city council approved funding to add new water main connections and fire hydrants. He said the city found pipes from 1888, a shock that affirmed the need for updated infrastructure.
“This is a once in a lifetime, temporary disruption to rehabilitate Main Street down to the dirt surface and replaced some 100-year-old infrastructure,” Horning said. “The changes to student resident on-street parking are only intended to be temporary in order to get our city through the crunch.”
Horning also encourages students to utilize bicycling if possible due to the safety precautions that the city has made, suggesting using resources from the city’s biking program, the Newark Bike Project.