By Jim Newell
Lake Orion administrators, council members and representatives from the Downtown Development Authority and the parking ad-hoc committee will host a meeting beginning at 6 p.m. Feb. 4 at Lockhart’s to discuss parking developments in the village.
Village Manager Joe Young said Lake Orion government wants public input on the new parking plans going forward, wayfinding signage, naming public lots and other parking issues affecting residents and businesses in the village.
“We’re always looking for more parking,” Young said, adding the village and DDA are working on “Increasing parking availability and managing it better.”
Business owner, employees of downtown businesses, residents and the general public are invited to attend and hear plans for improving the overall system of parking in the village, Young said. There also will be opportunities for public input on the proposals.
In 2017, the village council created a Parking Advisory Committee comprised of members from the village council and administration, planning commission, Downtown Development Authority and police department.
Some of the changes that will be enacted include greater enforcement of parking restrictions, including adding four new parking enforcement agents with the ability to ticket vehicles.
The four key pillars of the plan are physical improvements, education, enforcement and zoning, according to a news release from the parking committee, said parking committee chair Scott Reynolds, a village planning commissioner.
Many of the tenets of the plan will go into effect in 2019.
The village and DDA will continue re-striping and re-surfacing parking within the downtown, and this year created parking spaces along Shadbolt, west of Lapeer Street. The DDA is in the process of adding new parking spots along N. Anderson Street across from Lockhart’s restaurant.
The plan also includes setting new time limits on parking lots.
Parking on downtown streets will be limited to two hours. The municipal lot on the north side of Lockhart’s and the lot on Anderson/Front streets (the old Whiskey’s site) are being shifted from a 23-hour lots to six-hour lots to help create turnover and open up more parking.
The new lot between the fire station and the Orion Art Center on Anderson Street has 19 spots and is a 23-hour parking lot. The municipal parking on Anderson Street lot, next to Children’s Park, and the lot on Shadbolt/Lapeer (behind Fork ‘n Pin) will remain 23-hour lots, according to the plan.
A new naming convention for parking lots within the downtown will be implemented in the beginning of 2019. Parking lots will have addresses for easier identification and GPS navigation. Downtown parking maps will be available for businesses to share with their patrons and will also be available on the village website, according to the parking committee.
On the enforcement side, four new civilian parking enforcement agents will patrol the lots and use a web-based software as a digital enforcement tool to help track how long vehicles have been parked in a lot and allow for the issuance of tickets.
“They’re tasked with just enforcing parking. The time that gets put into enforcement is much more efficient,” Reynolds said. “We’re hoping to create some turnover in parking spots, which is a component we’re currently lacking.”
The proposed parking ticket fees are a warning for the first offense, $15 for the second offense, $30 for the third offense and $45 thereafter.
Village and DDA officials also are working on plans to open up spots by “redistributing” employees of downtown businesses to the longer-term parking lots, opening up street spots and short-term lots for customers, and want to explore e-permitting for employees and downtown residents.