Traffic Commission Discusses Downtown Parking

In a 12-minute meeting Wednesday, the City of Warsaw Traffic Safety Commission heard updates on downtown resident parking and handicapped signs and approve forwarding a recommendation to the city council on the CR 225E speed limit.
On the downtown parking issue, Dana Hewitt, Warsaw Police Department Parking Control, said at the March meeting it was decided a subcommittee would meet on the issue, “which we had a few weeks ago.”
He said the subcommittee tried to come up with some ideas for those who are renting apartments downtown because of the two-hour parking limit. Hewitt said they tried to come up with ideas to have parking spaces available for renters, whether on-street or off-street.
“If it’s off-street, there’s a lot of private lots owned by businesses. See if they would participate and give up some of those spaces, maybe for rent,” Hewitt said.
He said he talked to the Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber did bring the subject up with downtown business owners. “They want to hear more on how this would work. Some of them showed some interest,” he said.
There was talk about having some on-street parking, giving some parking spaces to renters in some of the areas of the downtown that are close to the apartments and designate those as residential parking, Hewitt said. “Maybe have a sign, covered by an ordinance, to allow them to park in these areas.”
He said they’re still up for ideas.
Councilwoman Cindy Dobbins said the on-street subcommittee will meet again after City Planner Jeremy Skinner has his off-street subcommittee meeting.
“I think the main concern from some of the merchants is not taking away parking from their businesses during the day,” Dobbins said. “But Dana actually had some ideas that were kind of perimeter places.”
Years ago, when residents started moving in above businesses downtown, former WPD chief Steve Foster said the property owner was responsible for providing parking. Landlords would rent spots from the city or from parking lot owners.
Dobbins said, “That’s a good point, too, because we’re dealing with some apartments that are owner-occupied and others that are actually rented out to people. And we did talk a little bit about enforcement, too.”
The discussion on downtown residential parking will continue.
Hewitt then reported to the Commission on the downtown handicapped parking signs.
“That’s been completed as of last week. We’ve had new, international handicapped decals made up and fixed them to all the downtown handicapped spots,” he reported.
Foster asked, “To the best of your knowledge, every place has been dealt with downtown?” Hewitt said they have.
Dobbins asked if the handicapped parking spot in the 200 block of South Lake Street next to the Mutual Bank parking lot ever got used. “It just seems like an odd location,” she said, and maybe it could be done away with and converted to a regular parking spot.
Hewitt said very rarely does he see that spot used. Another handicapped parking space was created within the last year on South Lake Street, he said, so if the committee wanted to get rid of the spot Dobbins was referring to, he said that was a possibility.
Foster asked Hewitt to follow up on the parking spots for the May 4 meeting.
The last issue was an ordinance decreasing the speed limit on CR 225E to 35 mph between Old 30 and the city limits.
Skinner said a subdivision is being built out there and property has been annexed into the city.
Foster said the reduction of the speed limit would be consistent with speed limits within the city.
After Dobbins asked what the speed limit out there currently is, Skinner said since it was out in the county it’s probably 40 mph.
The Commission approved recommending to the city council that the ordinance be approved to reduce the speed limit on CR 225E to 35 mph.