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Editorial: Who’ll take first step in downtown parking plan?

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Sometimes, the first step can be the most difficult.

That’s because just knowing where to start on a project can be overwhelming. Columbus officials and members of a steering committee are facing this challenge as they try to improve downtown parking.

There’s a perception downtown has a shortage of parking spaces. However, an $85,000 parking study commissioned by the city found that downtown Columbus actually has enough spaces for its needs, but they are not used efficiently.

For example, the study said Columbus needs about 4,000 parking spaces for its use, which is about 1,800 fewer than are available now. One problem identified in the report is that downtown employees park in the most desired spaces, taking ones best suited for customers.

The study spelled out about a dozen recommendations covering metered parking and free, time-limit parking. Understandably, the study contains a lot of information to discuss and digest. That can be a challenge, maybe even overwhelming.

Key players involved in this issue have seemed hesitant to proceed, especially when considering the often-controversial issue of metered parking as one solution.

No advice about an initial step was included in the study, and Redevelopment Commission members, for example, had no initial consensus on how to proceed with implementation. One member suggested hiring a consultant while another said the city should appoint a leader.

While the first step is difficult, it’s also the most important because it begins the path to solving a problem. In the city’s case, it needs to determine who must take the reins on the project and systematically implement the preferred parking solution.

Shelving the parking study for later examination would be a waste of time and taxpayer money, and a recipe for inaction. The city identified a problem; now it needs to starting acting on it.

Changes to how parking spaces are used could possibly take an extended period of time because multiple boards have supervisory authority over technical aspects of streets, signage and parking garages.

Columbus Redevelopment Commission controls the parking garages.

City police handle parking enforcement.

The city engineer’s office takes care of street planning.

Columbus City Council handles parking ordinances.

Incremental progress is needed to shepherd this large project to its conclusion, whatever that may be, once city leaders decide on that important first step.

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