City Councilman Jim Kraft says that the office of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is now involved in helping solve Canton’s parking woes and that the Can Company recently held a meeting with Area 43 stakeholders to discuss options for increasing parking in the congested area.
Specifically, Kraft says, the Mayor’s Office has met with representatives from Safeway’s corporate office to discuss the possibility of the Canton Safeway transforming its parking lot from one that is for customers only to one that is free for Safeway shoppers but open to anyone for a fee.
“This is being discussed. I had been told this by the Mayor’s Office,” says Kraft, who was not at the meeting.
Said Ryan O’Doherty, spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, in an email, “The city is open to working with Safeway, the community, and other stakeholders to find additional parking solutions for in the area. This is an ongoing process.”
The Canton Safeway, which owns its parking lot, has been approached in the past regarding parking, according to Kraft, but now wants to redevelop its property. Harris Teeter, an upscale grocery store will be opening in the Canton Crossing complex near the Merritt Athletic Club in October.
Canton has had parking problems for decades, but the popularity of the neighborhood and Can Company employees parking on the street during business hours brought the long-standing problem to a head last year.
In 2012, a residential permit parking area called Canton-Can Company (or Area 43) was created by the Parking Authority to help alleviate resident’s parking problems.
Area 43, however, has been controversial since its inception, and its future (along with the city’s entire residential permit parking law) will be determined by a final hearing on City Council Bill 12-0125 and possible vote scheduled for January 16, when Area 43 could be rescinded, renewed, or altered.
Just before Christmas, Kraft says, The Can Company management met with Area 43 stakeholders to propose another possible parking remedy.
“The Can Company, representatives from area 43, Millennial Media, and the Canton Community Association met to discuss the possibility of the Can Company making some of its parking garage space available for parking in the evenings and on weekends for a fee,” said Kraft, who attended the meeting.
According to Kraft, representatives from Struever Bros., Eccles, & Rouse, developer and manager of the Can Company, discussed making spaces in the Can Company parking garage available during off peak hours for a fee.
“I recall the hours Mon.–Fri. from 7 p.m.–7 a.m., and all day on the weekends for $50 per month,” says Kraft. “That’s a great price for reserved parking.”
Calls to the Can Company’s property management office were not returned.
Darryl Jurkiewicz, president of the Canton Community Association, who attended the meeting, confirms the times and amounts discussed.
“[Making the space available] is a good idea. Every little bit helps,” he said.
But Jurkiewicz added that at this point, it’s not official.
“I’m waiting for a final proposal from the Can Company, “Jurkiewicz said.
Even then, Jurkiewicz added, “While it’s a good price, we’re only talking about 100 spaces here.”
There are more than 200 properties in Area 43.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen on Jan. 16,” Jurkiewicz said, referring to the possible City Council vote on the subject.
Another possible solution to Canton’s parking problems is one that Kraft has been talking about for some time, a new Charm City Circulator route along Boston St. all the way to Canton Crossing.
Kraft said he would like to add a new route soon (it would be the Baltimore’s fifth) but concedes that he doesn’t have a funding mechanism at this time and a new route for the city’s free shuttle could take more than a year to fund and implement.
“I’m working on this with the Mayor’s Office,” he said.
“One option for paying for the Circulator is to install parking meters on Boston St. We have also asked major employers along Boston St. whether they’d be willing to contribute on an annual basis toward the Circulator, and we’ve received many positive responses,” he added.
by Danielle Sweeney