Board approves downtown parking study

Columbus Board of Works granted permission for a contract with Nelson/Nygaard for the firm to update its 2013 study on downtown parking, a move requested by the city’s parking commission.

On Tuesday, Board of Works members also approved a memorandum of understanding between the board and the Columbus Redevelopment Commission about the update to the study.

The update comes at the request of the Columbus Parking Commission. However, the work will be funded through a $19,470 grant from the redevelopment commission to the Board of Works, city officials said.

According to the memorandum of understanding, the parking commission has “no authority to contract or receive funds” for the study. The Columbus Board of Works will instead act as the contracting entity for the agreement.

Nelson/Nygaard’s proposal includes four key tasks — project start-up and coordination, stakeholder engagement, updated recommendations and “meter procurement guidance.”

“At the end of each phase, the parking commission will take note and see if we’re ready to move forward for the next phase,” said Redevelopment Director Heather Pope. “…If at any point in time the parking commission decides to not move forward to the next phase, then any remaining funds that are left will be transferred back to the redevelopment commission.”

City Engineer Dave Hayward said that each step will likely take one to two months for an estimated total of about six to eight months overall.

Hayward said in an earlier interview that the original 2013 study cost almost $85,000 and was also funded by the redevelopment commission.

In September, redevelopment commission member Kyle Hendricks said the commission wants a “better understanding of what the data says today and what the data need is today, for metered parking downtown.”

“It’s obviously kind of a weird time to try to collect data at this moment with the current situation that we’re in,” he said. “But knowing that the state of our local businesses are in flux, the current parking that we do have isn’t being fully utilized downtown, we’re trying to best understand what those recommendations might be and how they might best benefit the community for redevelopment and economic development purposes.”

Parking Commission member and Columbus City Councilman Tom Dell said that the commission also wants to ensure that the parking system “works best for everyone,” rather than hindering income from the redevelopment commission’s parking garages.

Prior to the pandemic, the city wasn’t as “efficient” with its parking as it could be, and the parking system is still punitive, Dell said. The commission wants to see if Nelson/Nygaard will make the same recommendations as before or different ones, members said.