The Town of Carrboro is updating its study on downtown parking this year with the hopes of determining how residents use parking to find ways to improve it.
The Town conducted a parking study in 2017 that led the Carrboro Town Council to approve a downtown parking plan. Now in 2020, the Town is working with Walker Consultants, a consulting firm that works with cities to plan parking, to complete an updated study in order to get more up-to-date information about parking.
Through the process of determining the scope of the study, — referred to as Parking 2020 — Annette Stone, the economic and community development director for Carrboro, said a parking enterprise fund would be set up in order to gain a better understanding of how money is being spent on parking measures in Carrboro.
"Right now, it will be funded through the general fund,” she said. “But as a way to put a fence around and know what it really costs to supply the surface parking, the leases, the maintenance, the enforcement, all those things associated with it, we’ve set up a parking enterprise fund.”
One catalyst for doing a new study in 2020 is the building of The 203 Project. Carrboro Town Council member Susan Romaine said with The 203 Project being built on a municipal lot, the Town will be losing 100 parking spaces.
“It’s really the 203 Project that I think is driving these decisions in terms of the parking study because we now know how much parking is going to be lost," Romaine said. "We just want to get a better sense of how much parking will be needed.”
In addition to gathering data, Parking 2020 is beginning to focus on surface parking. The Town wants to acquire surface lots and has started speaking with private property owners.
“We are engaging in options to lease, so that we’re laying out what the terms would be,” Stone said. “We’re saying if we leased your space, and you got this much per space, and we did insurance, and we did this and we did that, would you be interested in leasing?”
Romaine said the study is not only interested in looking at how many people park downtown, but also who those people are.
“One reason this information can be useful is, would there be ways that employees that are working downtown," Romaine said. "Could they be parking a little outside the downtown area, opening up some of the parking spaces downtown for people who are there to patronize coffee shops and sandwich shops and restaurants and grocery stores?”
Parking 2020 will also try to answer questions about what a paid parking system will look like. Council member Damon Seils said the study would look at how a paid parking program would be implemented and what the costs and benefits would be.
Seils said he hopes by the end of the study, the town council will be able to make better decisions about how to manage parking in Carrboro.
“We have some strategies that our existing downtown parking plan calls for, but I think having this updated analysis will give us a better idea of how to manage our current parking and avoid having too much parking and too little parking in Carrboro,” he said.
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