By Linda Dillman
Growth has its price and, in downtown Canal Winchester, that cost involves on-street parking issues that impact retail businesses.
The problem is people are parking their vehicles in on-street curb side parking spots much longer than the two hours allowed by law.
“In some ways, it’s crippling our business,” said Jim Shaw, owner of Shaw and Son Family Jewelers, a family-owned High Street store for more than 70 years. “We have a lot of older, mature citizens who will drive by looking for a place to park. If they can’t pull up close or nearby, they will not stop. I’m hoping city council can get us designated parking spots with 20 minute drop-off and pick-up.”
Shaw said the city commissioned a study around 1994-95 that estimated each on-street downtown parking space annually generates approximately $50,000 in revenue.
“That was 25 years ago. Imagine what it could be now,” Shaw said.
According to Fairfield County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Jesse Hendershot, signage posted throughout the city center limits on-street parking to two hours before 6 p.m. for 69 marked spots. All other on-street parking and parking lots are 72 hours.
Despite the restrictions, drivers often ignore the two-hour limit and leave their vehicle in the same spot for more than two hours, sometimes for the entire day.
Hendershot said parked vehicles are not chalked by his officers for time compliance.
“A complaint would need to come in,” said Hendershot, “Then the deputy would visually observe the vehicle being there and would have to come back two hours later, time permitting, and issue a warning or ticket.”
People parking all day long in two-hour spaces is a common complaint for businesses that depend on customers, some of which have mobility restrictions and base their visits on the availability of nearby parking.
Hendershot said people needing to park longer than two hours should use the larger city lots located throughout downtown.
“There’s plenty of space,” said Hendershot, who said Fairfield County deputies issued only seven parking violations last year, along with a number of warnings. “A parking violation costs $50 and a handicap violation is $250.”
A group calling itself the Downtown Business Association recently placed fliers on vehicles known to abuse the two-hour parking limit.
The flier reads, “With the arrival of new businesses, the parking spaces have become increasingly valuable to the vitality of downtown, but are frequently misused by downtown employees and residents for long-term and all-day parking, although the signage indicates a limit of two hours. We are asking that the spaces be used only for quick drop-offs and our vehicles be moved to all-day parking.”
Public parking spaces not subject to the two-hour limit are located in front of the McDorman building on Waterloo Street, behind both the Shade on the Canal and Barrel and Boar Restaurants and near the Washington Street and Groveport Road intersection.
“If they continue (violating the two-hour parking signs), they (the association) are going to start calling us with vehicle information and plate numbers,” said Hendershot. “During the week, if I’m available, I’m more than happy to investigate the complaints.”