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Sylvania City Council is reviewing a $30,000 contract to buy two plots of land behind the city's Municipal Court to add more public parking.
The contract was presented to council this week by Law Director Jim Moan. It is to purchase portions of two backyards, less than a quarter acre of land, of homes at 6719 and 6725 Maplewood Ave. The rear lots abut the court property at 6700 Monroe Street.
Council decided to review the contract before acting on it. The contract is expires in two weeks. Council members wanted to hear community concerns regarding the plan for the city to use the property for an extended parking lot behind the courthouse which would free spaces in an existing parking area off of Maplewood now used by court employees and visitors. Instead, city officials would like those spaces used more for patrons visiting downtown businesses.
Preliminary drawings show the proposed extended parking would wrap more tightly right behind the courthouse. Shown are 27 spaces added, although the new configuration would eliminate five existing spaces. The city would also use a portion of land from property it owns, which has a vacant house on it, at 6715 Maplewood Avenue, located next to the public parking on Maplewood Avenue.
Councilman Katie Cappellini said more parking spaces are needed but objected to adding more spots on the west side of the railroad tracks. She said the parking study conducted by the city in 2009 cited the railroad tracks as the dividing line between the downtown district and residential neighborhood. She said adding parking near the court would not provide easy access for shoppers to the downtown district, because there is no clear cut path to cross the railroad tracks.
Mrs. Cappellini also noted that, in the past weeks, she has counted many empty parking spots in the court lot, saying there is enough parking already in that area.
“November 5 noon, 58 empty spots. November 6 12:30 p.m., 43 open spots … The busiest day at the court is Wedne6sday. Last Wednesday there were 28 spots,” she said.
Councilman Mike Brown said adding parking west of the railroad is a way to entice future businesses to the area which need parking for employees. He said business owners looking to move to Sylvania have expressed concerns about guaranteed parking spots for employees.
“It’s not all about shoppers, it’s about people getting businesses in Sylvania,” he said.
Mr. Moan said the additional parking near the court would shift employee cars closer to the court building, freeing up spots closer to downtown shops for patrons. Many spots close to the shops, east of the railroad tracks, have a three-hour parking limit. Those should be used by patrons are often are used most of the day by business employees, government officials and shop owners have said.
Mayor Craig Stough said the city may begin to enforce the three-hour rule limit on spots where potential customers should park.
“I don’t think it’s the right place for it. Putting parking on that side [of the tracks], I’m not sure it is money well spent for the city or good for the downtown neighborhood,” said Sylvania resident Kevin Armstrong.
Mayor Stough stressed no homes would be touched in the proposed plan, which at this time has no cost or start date.
Council is expected to review the land purchase at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16. If plans for a parking lot moved forward, a public hearing would be set and a petition to use the residential land for special use would be considered, Mr. Moan said.
Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356, or firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @natalietrusso.