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Sewickley residents, leaders weigh in on need for parking

Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Fun Buy the Pound owner Brenda Fisk talks on the phone at the toy store on Beaver Street in Sewickley on Monday, Nov. 18, 2013. The small business is locally owned.

Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, 7:18 p.m.
 

When a roughly eight-week parking study is completed by a Chicago-based firm, Sewickley leaders could have a better idea if a garage should be part of a parking plan.

A group of about 20 people — including some Sewickley Council members, residents, Mayor Brian Jeffe and others — spoke with Khurshid Hoda, a consultant with Chicago-based Kimley-Horn and Associates.

The firm was hired last month to conduct a parking needs analysis at a cost of $25,700.

Borough leaders shelved a plan to build a parking garage along Walnut Street until at least results of the parking study are known.

Resident Maria Swanson said she wants to see the business district thrive, and thinks convenience to parking can be an issue for potential shoppers who drive into Sewickley.

“I would love to not have to get into my car and still do the clothes shopping and grocery shopping,” she said. “I rarely drive into the Village. Parking isn't a concern to me personally, but I want this Village to stay vibrant. I want to be able to be in this community and essentially stay right in this borough and be able to do just about anything I need.

“I do hear a lot from people (that) they don't want to walk all the way from parking behind the Sharp Edge to go to Bruegger's. That's a long way. I say that tongue-in-cheek.

“If they want to go to Bruegger's, they want to park on Beaver Street … or right behind it.”

In the research he conducted prior to last week's meeting, Hoda said he has heard parking convenience is an issue among shoppers.

“My initial understanding (is) … there is reluctance or hesitancy about how far a customer would want to walk,” he said. “It's nothing to take in a negative way. A town like this is typical across the country.”

He cited examples of similar small-town business districts where potential shoppers wanted to park close to their destinations.

Former planning commission member Joan Miles said she thinks the business district's parking woes are a perceived problem. Miles said she wants to see something help stimulate development.

“We have an opportunity,” she said. “A lot of us want to see our little downtown thrive. One way to do that is to redevelop some of these badly used pieces of property.

“We have a density problem. We don't really have enough people that come in on a daily basis to help our downtown thrive.”

Hoda said his work will include researching parking supply and demand, offering borough leaders costs of adding parking or related items, developing a garage sketch if that becomes a foreseeable option and producing a final report.

Borough Manager Kevin Flannery said he is hopeful the work would be completed by Jan. 31. He said council members could discuss the results as early as a regularly scheduled February meeting.

Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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