Despite the perception that parking is tight in parts of Downtown Easton and near the county courthouse, there are more than enough in the city, according to a new study commissioned by the city.
Representatives from Desman Associates, who just finished the first phase of a parking study, presented their findings to the Easton Parking Authority last Thursday evening, Nov. 17.
"Our survey suggests there is a great surplus of parking in Easton," said Michael Connor, senior associate for the company. "Though there's a surplus overall, there are some areas that are stressed and could be mitigated."
Basing their conclusions on a physical survey taken on a Friday this past September, along with extrapolated data and revenue data from meters and the city's parking deck, the:
- the Pine Street parking garage is underutilized
- the on-street parking supply is insufficient to meet the evening entertainment demand
- the demand for parking in the Downtown district peaks at noon and 8 p.m.
- 83 percent of on-street parkers stay two hours or less
- only 13 percent of those parked at meters stay over the time limit
- on-street metered spaces turn over an average of 2.7 times per day
- seasonal influx doubles the number of daily transactions at the Pine Street garage in July and August
In the West Ward Courthouse District:
- the off-street parking supply is sufficient to absorb much of the on-street parking activity
- 35 to 38 percent of on-street parking is unoccupied during the peak hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- the county parking garage is well-utilized
- 94 percent of those who park on-street stay two hours or less
- the majority of parkers comply with regulations
Despite the fact that the majority of cars staying for longer periods seems to use off-street parking, Desman suggests that the predominance of 10-hour meters encourages on-street parking over off-street parking and that the meter limit should be reduced.
"We understand people are advocating more three-hour, more four-hour, six-hour parking even. We found there's no justification for that," said Desman associate Greg Shumate.
The next step will be to further analyze the data gathered so far and suggest management strategies that will change parking use patterns in beneficial ways, Shumate said.
"Clearly, there's a residential demand, but some of these residents seem to be competing with transient visitors and the restaurants. How can we push people to park where their needs are best met?" Shumate said.
The company will also be coming back with recommendations for managing parking for the future.
"What we're seeing is the parking surpluses on the south of Pine Street will grow. North of Pine Street the parking deficits will grow too," Connor said. "We need to look into the future and future development too."
Desman representatives are expected return in January to present their recommendations for new management strategies, including rates for both on-street and off-street parking.