Stillwater News Press

Local News

September 19, 2012

Public input vital to parking study in Stillwater

STILLWATER, Okla. — Building parking lots or multi-level garages.

Revamping existing parking.

Installing parking meters.

Promoting pedestrian walkways and bicycle trials.

All, several, one or none of these options could be the solution to Stillwater’s parking problems, Matt Inman told approximately 25 people at Wednesday night’s public input hearing at the Stillwater Community Center.

Inman is a vice president for Carl Walker, Inc., a parking solutions company hired by the city of Stillwater to find ways to improve parking downtown and areas surrounding Oklahoma State University.

Inman is a parking-study specialist who has worked on projects involving University of Illinois, Arizona State University, Lincoln, Neb., Wichita, Kan., and others.

Carl Walker, Inc.’s parking study for Stillwater is just getting started, Inman said.

Company representatives are conducting parking counts downtown, at Campus Corner and on Washington Street. They are observing parking patterns in neighborhoods around OSU. They also met with four focus groups Wednesday and held the public input hearing. More meetings with Stillwater residents or groups, including the Greek Neighborhood Association, will be held Thursday.

The consulting company has conducted many parking studies, but doesn’t bring any preconceived ideas into the process, Inman said.

Each client has unique problems that require unique solutions, he said.

Parking may be lacking. It may be too far from businesses. It could be marketed badly and the public doesn’t realize it exists, Inman said.

Wednesday’s focus group meetings revealed different issues affect downtown, Campus Corner, Washington Street, Westwood addition and Oklahoma State University, Inman said.

Downtown BID members expressed concerns about employees and customers. Washington Street and Campus Corner merchants were more concerned about finding parking for construction workers in those areas, he said.

Inman attended Monday’s City Council public hearing about Westwood addition parking. Wednesday’s meeting with Westwood representatives basically involved clarifying the issues presented Monday.

A mini-focus group involving the Greek Neighborhood Association was added to Thursday’s list of meetings, OSU’s Fraternity and Sorority Affairs Director Ival Gregory said.

The Greek Neighborhood Association encompasses the area between Washington and Walnut streets and University and Fourth avenues.

Parking is limited in the area surrounding Oklahoma State University’s fraternities and sororities, Gregory said.

Parking solutions including more one-way streets, an on-street parking ban and a multi-level parking garage at Tower Park have been discussed in the past three years.

It is important for the Greek community to have a voice in the parking study. Gregory is a member of the parking study steering committee.

“It will impact a lot of people. Everyone who wears a (fraternity or sorority) badge wants to be a good citizen,” Gregory said.

Carl Walker, Inc. will conclude field work on Friday. It will develop some possible solutions for Westwood parking first.

Then, the company will complete alternative parking analysis and a marketing analysis, Inman said.

The company will complete a draft of its parking report and seek more public input before issuing its final draft, which will include an action plan, by Dec. 31, Inman said.

“We want to have the right product and the right services at the right price and in some areas that price may be free,” Inman said.

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