Public Meeting to Discuss North Village Parking Pilot Wednesday

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COLUMBIA - The city of Columbia will hold a public meeting Wednesday to gather feedback about the North Village Parking Pilot Project.

The North Village Parking Pilot started in mid-February after local residents and businesses stressed the need for a solution to traffic and parking concerns in the neighborhood. The project allows residents to apply for a parking permit to park in a specified area reserved for permit only. This area includes parts of St. James, St. Joseph, East Ash, East Walnut and Hubbell streets and Park Avenue.

Those qualified were able to apply and receive a parking pass for free. The passes allow street parking along the streets involved in the program. Police started enforcing the new parking regulations at the end of February, meaning a fine for anyone who parked without a pass. Also, new meters were installed on St. Joseph Street and St. James Street to accommodate parking for local businesses and to help defer the costs of the pilot program.

Polly Sweitzer owns Yoga Sol on St. James Street, which is part of the pilot project area. She said there used to be problems with residents parking their cars outside her business while they went on vacation for multiple days, making it difficult for her customers to find parking. The two-hour parking meters were installed outside her business, and Sweitzer said they have been extremely beneficial.

"My classes are generally an hour and a half long and I know the other businesses in the area have clients that come and go, so we need a constant rotation of people," Sweitzer said about parking spots. "The two-hour meters have been very effective for us."

 If the pilot is a success and other residents are interested in the program, the city council could develop more residential permit parking only locations.

"If there are areas that are interested in something like this and council is wanting us to pursue it, we'll give them information on what the costs are, what the benefits that we see are and what the detractors are," Stone said. "Whatever the citizens want, we're trying to get there."

With the construction of more student housing, Sweitzer said she believes parking needs to be addressed as well.

"I love all the people coming down and I think it's great for Columbia," Sweitzer said. "I just think it should be responsibly developed and there should be parking in part of their developmental plan."