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Sewickley parking rates could rise with proposed garage

| Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Parking rates in Sewickley could double early next year if council members continue moving forward with plans to build a nearly 300-vehicle public garage.

Metered spaces across the municipality and inside a proposed garage could cost as much as $1 an hour. That amount could rise to $2 for special events and Saturday parking, which now is free, in the garage proposed to be constructed between Walnut and Green streets at the site of the former Ascot Motors dealership.

Council members could decide by mid-September whether to build a garage on a site also shared by a proposed two-screen nonprofit movie theater.

Borough leaders say they're trying to solve what has historically been a parking problem — “whether or not it's a perceived problem or a problem of convenience,” council President Bob Hague said.

“In my 20 years, ‘parking' has been one word used over and over and over again.

“We're trying to make a long-term solution to not only address present needs, but future needs.”

Addressing those needs comes at a cost. Construction of a 297-vehicle public garage could cost nearly $6 million, borough manager Kevin Flannery said.

That does not include the cost of moving Hoey's Run — a stream located underneath the proposed site — which could be as much as $500,000.

Including purchasing the land and installing new parking machines, costs associated with a garage could reach $8 million, Flannery said.

Borough leaders say money borrowed would be repaid through revenue generated by the garage.

“The people who are essentially going to be paying for it — not the taxpayers — but the people who use it,” Hague said.

Flannery estimates nearly $800,000 could be generated through leases and six-day-a-week use of the garage.

Flannery called his estimates conservative with only partial use of the garage calculated. He also is recommending council members approve 24-hour metered garage parking. Street parking likely would remain 9 a.m. 5 p.m., he said.

Council members earlier this month approved the transfer of $910,000 from various reserve funds and the general fund to cover the cost of purchasing 21,000 square feet of land and what they call a “reasonable expectation” to reimburse the borough's general fund and other operating and reserve funds, including any borrowing of money, for acquisition of the land.

Both motions passed unanimously.

The land is owned by One Thorn Street LLC.

Without addressing parking, Mayor Brian Jeffe said future development could be stymied in the business district.

With the proposed 30,000 square feet of office and retail space expected to begin going up this summer in the area around Thorn and Walnut streets, parking spaces needed to accommodate development are a premium, Jeffe said.

Council member Susan Aleshire agreed, saying the business district needs ample parking for future development and to entice shoppers to town.

“If we don't do it, it's a missed opportunity,” she said. “We have so much going on in town now … it's just going to continue.”

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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