0109_dnr_Parking Garage_1

Drivers look for parking spaces in the Water Street parking deck in January 2018.

Harrisonburg city staff and Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance will hold two forums Wednesday to discuss potential changes to parking in the downtown area.

The downtown parking study has been in the works since June and was used to identify what changes need to be made to best use downtown parking.

Desman, a national firm that conducts parking studies throughout the country, has been looking into steps to improve parking efficiency.

The last parking study that was done in the city was in 2009.

There will be two meetings at City Hall, which will have the same presentation. The first will take place from 9 to 11 a.m. The second will occur from 6 to 8 p.m.

The recommendations that will be presented were created after a number of public engagement opportunities, including a community survey and a forum at the Ice House, according to a city press release.

A few recommendations the city has received through the process have focused on instituting parking requirements for new development in downtown, investing in improved wayfinding and technology systems to help drivers locate available parking, promote shared parking agreements and investigating fee-for-use possibilities, according to the press release.

In a prior interview, Tom Hartman, the city’s director of public works, said the projects are split up between short-term solutions, which take up to three years, midterm projects, which take three to six years, and long-term projects, which have a window of six to 10 years for completion.

Desman held a forum in August to present some of its findings on how much parking goes on downtown.

The data presented was from a Tuesday in April and focused on 48 city blocks, which is around three-quarters of a mile.

The study showed a total of 7,903 spaces — 994 on-street spaces and 6,909 off-street spaces.

With the on-street parking, around 237 spaces are two-hour parking, 522 are unrestricted, three are one-hour spaces and 24 are 30-minute.

For the off-street parking inventory Desman took, there are 187 private facilities that contain 5,284 spaces, which is 76% of the off-street parking.

Any private off-street facilities cannot be used by the public.

Desman said at the time that it would look into the possibility of increasing the parking to the public through shared parking agreements with private owners.

Just like at the last forum, following each presentation Wednesday, city staff and HDR expect to hear input from residents and visitors at the meeting on the recommendations.

The Wednesday meetings will take place in rooms 11 and 12 in City Hall. To access the rooms for the morning meeting, enter through the main doors of City Hall and take the elevator down one floor.

To enter for the evening meeting, enter through the side of the City Hall building. Signage will be in place.

Along with the two meetings, residents can also take an online survey focused on the new recommendations. The survey will be available in the coming weeks, the release said.

To access the survey, visit www.harrisonburgva.gov.

City staff will present final recommendations in late February or March.

Contact Laine Griffin at 574-6286 or lgriffin@dnronline.com. Follow Laine on Twitter @laine_griffDNR

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