Mark Spearman, webmaster for the local Newark web site and blogger – see his work here – has some comments on my take RE parking in downtown Newark:
You would have to understand that there really isn’t a parking problem at all. There is a massive amount of free parking that is very close to any downtown store. People are just to lazy to walk. The parking enforcement was useless considering that there is no problem to begin with. There is a free parking garage and huge free parking lots. Newark, Ohio is one of the few cities that really doesn’t have a parking problem. The decline in business is due to the decline in the economy and an increase in homeless and mentally ill people roaming the streets begging for money. You can’t walk 20 feet without someone asking you for a dollar. With plenty of shopping and entertainment in close by shopping malls, the obsolete downtown suffers a common fate, but parking is the last reason that there is a hardship.
Can’t argue with that, and won’t try – however I might add a bit. He uses the word “free” a couple of times in his piece. That could be the problem. If they charged for parking (businesses could validate for those that shopped with them if they felt it necessary) they would free up on street spaces and people would quickly decide to go into the “free” structure. Monies raised could be used to clean up the area, provide some PR for the downtown, and then perhaps people would come back. He is right of course; people don’t pass over areas because of parking or lack of it.
Time for downtown to begin to compete with the mall. Think outside the box. If you build it they will come.