Area 43 does not encompass or border O’Donnell Square at the moment, but the restaurants, bars, and other nearby businesses hope to nip any future expansion of the residential permit parking area in the bud.
At least 10 business owners from the square and nearby made their opinions known at the last of the public hearings on the future of Area 43, which could be the same, larger, or completely non-existent in the near future. The hearing was held last Wednesday at City Hall.
Area 43 was originally established to make parking easier for residents in the area surrounding the Canton Can Company. Residents of Area 43 say that parking was difficult when they were competing with Can Company employees for spaces. Non-residents may not leave their cars in Area 43 for more than two hours between 8 a.m. and 12 a.m. By most—if not all—accounts, ticketing is prompt and aggressive.
O’Donnell Square businesses want none of it.
“We feel it would be detrimental not only to businesses in the square, but to the neighborhood as a whole,” said Patricia Weaver, president of the O’Donnell Square Business District Association.
She asked the O’Donnell Square business owners at the hearing to stand up—there were at least 10. Seven of them were also residents of the area.
Steve Roop, owner of Portside Tavern, also happens to live “on the cusp” of Area 43, on the 700 block of S. River St.
“I can see my house from [an adjacent block], but I can’t park there for more than two hours or I get a ticket,” he said. “That makes zero sense.”
Roop said that expanded permit parking closer to or throughout the square would have a detrimental effect on businesses, because customers would have a feeling of being “on the clock” as soon as they parked their cars. Those customers who come from outside the city, he said, would “think about going someplace else.”
First District Councilman Jim Kraft, hosting the hearing, mentioned that someone had floated the solution of making all of Canton either permit or metered parking.
“Why doesn’t everyone who lives in Canton get a sticker, and everyone that comes in pay at the meter?” Kraft said. “There’d be no limit at the meter.”
Roop said that he felt that the idea would be another “band-aid solution.”
Theo Harris of Keller Williams Realty said that though his business is located in Federal Hill, he represents many builders and contractors who do business in Canton. He said that he feels that permit parking is detrimental in Federal Hill.
“I’m sad to tell you we lost one of our most valuable employees in our Federal Hill office because of permit parking,” he said. “I’d hate to see the same plan come to Canton.”
A few Canton residents spoke both for and against permit parking, echoing arguments made in the first two public hearings.
Kraft said that several measures are being taken to create more parking in Canton.
“The city is installing angle parking anywhere we can put it,” he said, noting that Elliot St. and Clinton St. are next, followed by Fayette St., Foster Ave., Lakewood Ave., and Fleet St.
“Anywhere else down there where it can fit, we’re going to put it in,” Kraft said.
There are also two potential parking lots, he added. One has potential for 200 spaces. Safeway may also work something out with the city, but there has been no proposal to date, he said.
The Charm City Circulator could come through Canton, Kraft said, but it would have to be paid for. He said it’s currently being financed by a parking tax and by the businesses that are serviced by it.
There is also an idea on the table that the Can Company itself may open its parking to residents of the area during non-working hours.
The hearing was held on Wednesday, Nov. 7, at City Hall. The City Council will hold a work session on the bill on Wednesday, Nov. 28, at City Hall in the Reeves Room, fourth floor. The work session is open to the public.
by Erik Zygmont