City leaders work toward creating a parking commission

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COLUMBIA-- City leaders are in talks of creating a parking commission as a result of a study conducted by Smart Growth America. A long with letters written to Columbia by the executive director of downtown's Community Improvement District.

In 2015 Smart Growth conducted a study that tested parking habits downtown. The study provided recommendations on ways to improve parking in the downtown area.

One of the top recommendations was to create a parking commission that regulates and manages city parking for shoppers.

Executive Director Katie Essing of downtown Columbia's CID said she is in full support of the commission.

Essing said she is aware parking downtown is an ongoing issue, but she said she believes creating a commission will solve a lot of problems.

"A lot of times there are parking spots available, people just might not know where they are such as in our garages, so its just exploring ways to educate customers on where to park," Essing said.

Essing also said it would benefit business owners downtown.

"Convenient and close parking to shops, restaurants and businesses is imperative to the economic success of downtown," Essing said.

City Manager Fellow Leah Christian said finding alternative ways to get downtown is a top priority. She recommends using buses or bikes.

Essing said the CID would like to be a part of the commission to help find solutions.