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Study offers Dormont options to eliminate parking crunch

| Wednesday, July 31, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Dormont could ease its residential parking shortage by converting some two-way streets to one way with room for more parked cars, or by tying an expanded parking permit system to available off-street spaces, a study by Carnegie Mellon University graduate students found.

The study, which is set to be discussed during a public meeting this month, found a shortage of about 985 on-street parking spaces throughout the community.

Borough Manager Jeff Naftal said suggestions and questions will be gathered during the meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 13 in the borough building.

The borough's Traffic and Parking Planning Commission then will review the report, try to answer residents' questions and make its own recommendations to council, which could act in October.

“There's some pretty complicated recommendations that will require additional discussion and more study,” council President Willard McCartney said.

Dormont has 77 unmetered parking spaces available per 100 houses, with an average of 1.64 cars per household, according to the study. The borough's population is 8,600.

Though some houses have driveways, garages or other off-street parking, residents typically park at least one car per household on the street, leaving some blocks with a parking crunch.

“One of the biggest complaints we get (on council) about parking is that people have driveways or garages but don't use them,” McCartney said. “We get calls from people who ask us if we can make people use their driveways, but obviously we can't do that.”

One of the study's recommendations is to change the application for a parking permit by including questions about numbers of vehicles owned, parking permits already held and access to nearby off-street spaces. Borough staff could weigh the answers against the number of available spaces in a block to determine whether to issue permits.

For example, if a household had two off-street parking spaces available and three cars, it only would be eligible for one on-street parking permit.

To reach a goal of at least one on-street parking space per household, the study recommended that the borough consider converting some streets from two-way traffic with parking on one side to one-way with parking on both sides.

Residential permit parking is in effect in nine zones near the central business district along West Liberty and Potomac avenues. But the study recommended that it be expanded to the entire borough and enforced at night, when competition for parking is fiercest. For residents of apartments in the central business district, a “flexible” permit parking area could allow them to park at metered spots without having to pay.

The central business district could get “smart meters” — centralized payment stations that would replace rows of meters and could make enforcement more efficient.

Residents who can't attend the meeting may email comments to jnaftal@dormont.pa.us until 4 p.m. Aug. 16.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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