City Leaders Want Public Opinions on Downtown Parking

By: Estephany Escobar Email
By: Estephany Escobar Email

HARRISONBURG -- A lot of people have a lot of opinions and now local leaders are trying to get opinions on parking in the city.

In Court Square there are a few parking spaces, but if you walk a block from there, you can find one parking deck in either direction. City leaders want to find out if people who live in Harrisonburg think that's enough.

Bobby Nolley, a worker at Dave's Taverna, said he could welcome even more people into the restaurant with extra free parking downtown.

“Parking is definitely a huge issue,” he said.

He said there aren't many spots in front of the restaurant.

"If you don't find a spot, like I said earlier, that is in the near vicinity of where you're trying to go to, more than half of the time, they will just find themselves going somewhere else."

Kevin Libuit parks downtown often. He said there are other parking spots and decks nearby.

“Never have I been downtown and wanted to go to an event and parking has been so full enough to make me go back home,” said Libuit.

Andy Banks with the city of Harrisonburg said it's all a mater of perception.

“I think if you're willing to walk a block or more, I don't think parking is a problem downtown,” said Banks.

City leaders want to find out what people and business workers think. That's why a group of James Madison University students is looking at how many parking spaces are being used throughout the day.

“It's always of interest to the city that we're having a handle or an idea inside into the use of parking and if we need more, if we need less."

The city has 905 spots downtown. Banks said parking needs change as new businesses come in and others move out.

“As that evolves, the need for parking also changes.”

Banks said there are some parking spaces that are always full and some that are not so much. City leaders want to find ways to direct people to the spots which could handle more cars.

The city did a study similar to this one in 2009.

The students will present their results in a few weeks.

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