The Press Newspaper
If you have driven down Main Street in East Toledo lately, you may have noticed angled parking has replaced parallel parking spaces.
The new look also includes a reduction of traffic from two lanes to one way each way and the removal of parking meters.
Business owners say they are seeing results from the new parking. Reddish Contact Sports Supply has been in business in East Toledo for over 100 years and has its own parking lot, but owner Gary Reddish says the new parking has been a plus.
“I think it’s eliminated a lot of the parking congestion on Main Street,” Reddish said. “It didn’t affect me too much because I have a parking lot, but I know my customers now prefer it over the parking lot because it’s easier to get into the front door, and I know that it’s helped out Frankie’s (Inner-City night club) and all the places along Main Street that didn’t have much parking at all. I think it’s a good thing. I haven’t heard any negative response off of it at all except from one gal, and I wouldn’t consider that negative.
“I’ve asked a lot of my customers what they thought, and my customer base really likes it,” Reddish continued. “I’ve only had one customer that didn’t like it, and she was just a bit elderly and she was afraid of backing out. So I said, ‘Well, use my parking lot then.’
“It has slowed traffic down. I had a couple people tell me, ‘Jeesh, I’ve driven by here every day heading to work and never noticed you were here until I had to slow down.’ Now, they’ve come in. They didn’t know we were here because they were blinded by speed. Now, they can relax a little more as they drive down Main Street and pay a little more attention to what is on Main Street.”
It was paid for with city traffic collections revenue and capital improvement funds originally intended for Main Street carried over from five years ago, said District 3 councilman Mike Craig.
The new parking was completed last summer, but the rubber bump-outs extending into the street are temporary. The city is seeking grants and other funding to make it permanent with concrete bump-outs.
Mayor Michael P. Bell’s public information officer, Jennifer Sorgenfrei, said to expect an announcement in the spring regarding making the changes permanent, “provided we can secure the funds.”
River East Associates chairman Dan Steingraber said, “When we put the permanent improvements in it will be much more aesthetically pleasing. There are going to be bump-outs at all the intersections and there will be some green areas and planting areas inside the bump-outs.
“It will be more clearly defined. We just have those black rubber bump-outs that are just temporary. They just did that to make sure it is going to be effective,” Steingraber continued.
Craig said Steingraber, owner of Steingraber and Associates real estate appraisal firm on Main Street, spearheaded the project, adding that he “did a great job” and “stayed with it” until the project became reality.
Steingraber said the project idea has its beginnings from the Connecting the Pieces project, which came out of a $200,000 grant provided to the Toledo office of the Local Initiative Support Corporation to make improvements to housing, streetscape, and businesses in certain neighborhoods in East Toledo. It was the largest grant ever to the Toledo LISC.
“We had some urban planners and urban architects working with us on the neighborhood, and one of the things they suggested was that we find a way to calm the traffic on Main Street to make it more pedestrian friendly. They suggested that the best and most effective way to do that was to put in angle parking,” Steingraber said.
“That was actually two-fold of an improvement, because we added about 60 percent more parking spaces at the same time. It’s been wonderful. Everybody on the street loves it. I’ve done an informal survey up and down the street asking if anybody had any issues about how they feel about it and to a person everybody loves it.”
Steingraber believes the new parking can help sell Main Street to potential new businesses.
“The tenant (Generations Resale and Consignment Shop at 302 Main Street) that came into our building next door, where Cheek’s (Candles) used to be, one of the things that attracted them was the angle parking. They saw the angled parking and they said, ‘Well, that’s neat,’ and they saw the vacant storefront right there. It’s really a nice little store, actually.
“The people that were using Main Street for a cut-through, and there are still a lot of people who still use it for a cut-through, but not quite at the same level and they are going a lot slower. It’s definitely more pedestrian friendly.”
Craig said if the parking becomes permanent, he would like to see one adjustment.
“The only change I would make, where the angle parking is and you pull out, is if you did reverse angle parking where you pull up past the space, you back in, and then you pull out, so that much less of your car has to get into the street where you have clearer right of way. It’s much safer,” Craig said.
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