Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Parking Wars

Not everyone in Ellicott City is excited about the new parking system that the county will soon be installing in the historic district. Monday, following the County Councils approval of the schedule of parking fees, one disgruntled loco hacked into the reader board on New Cut Road changing the message that informed motorists of the road work ahead to “Ken Ulman Hates Ellicott City.”

That’s a little hard.

Say what you will about Ken Ulman but as county exec Ken has finally addressed a parking issue that has bedeviled the historic district for years. In the eight years since a revenue authority was first established to build a parking garage in Ellicott City the only thing that it has accomplished is a study that determined the old town didn’t really need a garage.

The parking problem in Ellicott City is more of a resource management issue than anything else. There are 594 on- and off- street parking spaces in the downtown area. There are an additional 197 up the hill by the courthouse. The problem is that they are spread out along Main Street and in six separate parking lots. That can make finding an open space a little challenging in peak times.

Ken’s parking plan fixes that by putting available spaces online in real time, accessible on your smartphone or tablet. While that may not serve everyone right now, it won’t be long before it will. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism in collaboration with The Economist Group, “50 percent of Americans now have mobile Internet access through either a tablet or a smartphone.”

That’s double the number from a year ago.

Still, despite the obvious benefits, some Ellicott City merchants are pretty upset. In an email to Councilperson Courtney Watson, Sara Arditti, the owner of the Still Life Gallery, even went so far as to suggest that the award of the parking contract was corrupt.

“Many are calling for an investigation of the "sole bidder" procurement process in which the RFP appears to have been tailored to Streetline's exact specifications such that its competitors may have been eliminated at the outset, by design.”


She goes on to say that “I will not stop fighting by all legal means necessary.”

That should make some attorney very happy.

Not all Ellicott City merchants agree with her. In fact, all the merchants I've spoken with are actually in favor of it. They are glad to see that something is finally being done about parking rather than just being talked about or studied

Then again, change never comes easy. We saw that in Columbia and Turf Valley too.
blog comments powered by Disqus