Lititz parking fragmented, adequate

Consultant suggests public/private effort to free up unused spaces for restaurant, retail patrons.
Parking in downtown Lititz is fragmented, but it is "adequate" for now.

That conclusion was the result of a comprehensive parking study done by Walker Parking Consultants.

Carrie Krasnow of Walker Parking reported June 28 to borough council that the on-street and off-street parking in Lititz provided enough spots for the downtown merchants and their customers.

Council and Venture Lititz, which shared the cost of the study, are expected to use the study to work on solutions to parking issues.

The study identified about 1,200 spaces and involved a survey of shoppers and retailers.

What Krasnow learned is that parking in Lititz was fragmented.

"Local people know where they can park, but visitors not so much," Krasnow said.

She reported that people are divided about the need for a parking garage for downtown Lititz. That plan had been suggested several years ago, but Krasnow said that she did not recommend a parking garage.

For one, it would most likely cost as much as $4.5 million to construct. Based on her experience, the cost of building a parking structure is only recommended when a town is completely out of parking spaces. The cost to build a garage would not be recouped, and it would be a drain on borough resources.

"I am not a proponent of 'if you build it, they will come,'" said Krasnow, adding that a garage is an expensive option.

She also said that the study did not show the need for a separate parking authority.

Krasnow was able to determine that there were enough parking spots in Lititz, including those along Main and Broad streets as well as public parking lots. The gap is in the unused parking spaces in private lots.

"There is enough parking, it just needs to be made available," she said. "You need to make use of existing parking."

She suggested that the borough and the property owners work out arrangements for making better use of unused parking in the downtown. A cooperative effort would be necessary to overcome challenges such as liability, reserving spots for property owners and their tenants and shoppers and "wayfinding" so that people know where to park.

Krasnow also learned that local shoppers and visitors liked the low meter rates. A quarter buys an hour of parking, a rate that has not been increased for many years.

She suggested that rates could be increased to 50 cents an hour and still be considered to be very reasonable. That would bring more income into the borough, possibly into a designated account, which could help pay for parking options and enforcement of parking regulations.

Sue Barry, borough manager, reported that revenue of about $17,000 from parking meters and $20,000 from parking violations provides revenue of about $37,000 for the borough's general fund.

Council member Doug Bomberger said that a balance should be struck so that parking is not so expensive or limiting that it deters downtown shoppers.

Council also heard a suggestion that merchants and their employees park in a designated lot so that on-street metered spots would be made available for shoppers.

Ron Oettel, mayor and fire chief, said that before he saw the study, he felt that Lititz had a parking problem. After reading the study, he realized that there were enough spaces, they just needed to be made available.

"Parking is a dynamic issue," Oettel said, agreeing that local people knew some of the places to park and which private property owners didn't mind. "But I think 'wayfinding' could help there."

Krasnow said big events like the Halloween Parade, Fourth of July and annual craft show tested the limits of downtown Lititz parking, but on a day-to-day basis, there was enough.

She suggested that the borough begin by talking to private property owners to free up some parking areas for the shopping and dining areas.
Walker Parking Consultants
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