Council discusses parking lot plans

Improvements to Marietta’s Parking Partners lot on Second Street will result in 22 more paid parking spaces and two additional non-paid parking slots, according to plans presented during a council lands, buildings and parks committee meeting Tuesday.

The city currently leases 125 spaces in the lot for $25 per month, but the new design will provide 147 rental spaces and 67 public parking spaces.

“We’re trying to keep the current leased spaces in the same general area (in the front and north end of the lot), but have also added more rental spaces as (mayor’s clerk) Mary Grubert is getting a lot of calls for paid spaces for college students,” said Eric Lambert, project manager for the city engineering department.

But Councilman Harley Noland, D-at large, who chairs the lands, buildings and parks committee, said area business owners prefer public parking for customers at the front of the lot.

“I talked to several merchants and they would like to see more public parking spaces in the front of the lot, closer to Second Street,” he said.

Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, agreed.

“We want to encourage people to park in the public spaces closest to Second Street as those should be for customers of businesses in that area if we’re trying to improve the local economy,” he said.

Lambert noted that changing the current location of paid parking spaces could create an issue for Grubert as she attempts to accommodate people who pay regular monthly rent for the best-located spaces.

“That’s why we tried to design the lot so that our current rented spaces do not change,” he said.

After the discussion Noland asked city law director Paul Bertram III to draw up legislation amending the current Parking Partners regulations to increase the number of leased spaces from 125 to 147.

Noland also asked the engineering department and administration to develop a proposal for the addition of paid parking spaces in other city lots located on the corner of Butler and Second streets, next to Armory Square, and adjacent to the Putnam Bridge.

In other business, city engineer Joe Tucker told members of the water, sewer and sanitation committee that plans are under way to secure a loan for the third phase of the city wastewater treatment plant upgrade.

“We’re in the process of submitting a nomination form that will put us in line for the third phase,” he said.

The low-interest loan money is being sought through the Ohio Water Pollution Control Loan Fund.

Tucker said application for the funding has to be submitted soon in order to have the loan ready by the end of 2014 with third phase construction slated to begin in 2015.

He said the third phase original estimated construction cost is $14.75 million.

“But our hope is to bring that figure down closer to $10 million,” Tucker said.

He added that the third phase design is currently under way, which will help determine actual costs for the project.

Also on Tuesday, Teresa Hayes, who led the effort to establish a dog park at Jackson Hill Park and is continuing to spearhead other park improvements, including a new picnic shelter and water fountain, expressed concern that the city is planning to use part of the park property for fire training.

Mayor Joe Matthews said the fire training area, which would be located within a fenced-in location that was originally the site of the Jackson Park pool, has been under consideration for months.

“This is something we’ve talked about for some time,” he said.

Councilman Mike McCauley, D-2nd Ward, agreed.

“But the training would go on inside the old pool area, and it wouldn’t be every day,” he said. “I don’t believe it would have much of an impact on the dog park or the picnic area there.”

Bertram said he would look at the zoning code to see if a fire training area is permitted within a city park.

Finally on Tuesday, Marietta-area businessman Wei Sheng requested permission to operate beer gardens in the city lots at Butler and Second streets and on the south side of the Lafayette Hotel on Oct. 18 and 19.

Sheng is helping coordinate a major event that weekend featuring Rick Wallenda walking a high wire across the Ohio River from Williamstown to Marietta, and motorcycle stuntman Robbie Knievel jumping his motorcycle across the Ohio from Marietta to Williamstown.

He said massive crowds are expected for the weekend, which will include concerts and other festivities from Oct. 16 through Oct. 19.

Sheng said he’ll also be applying soon for an F-permit to sell alcohol at the beer gardens during the event.

The lands, buildings and parks committee members gave tentative approval for Sheng’s request to use the two city lots for beer gardens in October.