Northeast Times

Plan aims to avoid Fishtown parking wars

With de­vel­op­ment sur­ging in Fishtown, a new plan of­fers solu­tions to cool grow­ing ten­sions between res­id­ents and busi­ness own­ers.

The Fishtown Neigh­bors As­so­ci­ation hos­ted an open meet­ing last Tues­day to ad­dress a grow­ing con­cern — park­ing, par­tic­u­larly along Frank­ford and Gir­ard av­en­ues.

A group of ap­prox­im­ately 30-40 res­id­ents and busi­ness own­ers gathered at the Fishtown Re­cre­ation­al Cen­ter, 1202 E. Mont­gomery Ave. 

The meet­ing, broken in­to two ses­sions, began with a present­a­tion by Angie Wil­li­am­son, eco­nom­ic de­vel­op­ment dir­ect­or of the New Kens­ing­ton Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Corp., (NK­CDC).

In re­sponse to the pub­lic’s park­ing and traffic con­cerns, Wil­li­am­son provided a de­tailed ex­plan­a­tion of an eval­u­ation con­duc­ted by JzTI in May of 2009.  JzTI is a con­sult­ing com­pany that provides trans­port­a­tion plan­ning ser­vices for com­munit­ies in the Phil­adelphia re­gion.

While no ac­tion has yet been taken based on the study, all in at­tend­ance were provided the op­por­tun­ity to hear and dis­cuss JzTI’s eval­u­ation, as well as voice their own sug­ges­tions for park­ing im­prove­ments in both the res­id­en­tial and com­mer­cial areas of the com­munity.

Ac­cord­ing to the JzTI eval­u­ation, the com­munity has three um­brella op­tions avail­able to ad­dress park­ing con­cerns: either in­crease the num­ber of spots avail­able, stra­tegic­ally man­age the ex­ist­ing space, and/or re­duce de­mand by in­tro­du­cing and en­cour­aging al­tern­at­ive sources of trans­port­a­tion.

While it sounds simple on pa­per, the ex­e­cu­tion of these op­tions may not be as easy in prac­tice. 

For starters, both res­id­en­tial and com­mer­cial con­cerns need to be taken in­to con­sid­er­a­tion. And solu­tions that may work well for res­id­ents may not cater to­wards the de­vel­op­ment of the Fishtown com­mer­cial dis­trict, an area that is un­deni­ably grow­ing, and at a rap­id pace.

In at­tend­ance at Tues­day’s meet­ing was Ro­land Kassis, a com­mer­cial de­veloper in Fishtown. 

“Park­ing is a prob­lem,” Kassis stated, “both the busi­nesses and res­id­ents must make sure they’re work­ing to­geth­er … we need to do whatever the res­id­ents want, we need to work with their com­fort level, but if this com­munity is try­ing to cre­ate com­mer­cial cor­ridors there must be some kind of traffic and park­ing en­force­ment.”

While park­ing per­mits might be a vi­able solu­tion for the res­id­en­tial streets, im­pos­ing time lim­its along Gir­ard, Frank­ford and oth­er ma­jor com­mer­cial streets are likely a more prac­tic­al solu­tion.

Oth­er sug­ges­tions in­clude but are not lim­ited to: re­du­cing out­dated curb cuts; im­ple­ment­ing di­ag­on­al park­ing along Gir­ard; the use of shared park­ing in lots with lim­ited op­er­at­ing hours such as banks, churches, and schools; as well as pro­mot­ing car shar­ing prac­tices such as Philly Car Share and Zip­Car.

Con­cerns re­cog­nized by both res­id­ents and busi­ness own­ers alike in­clude the need for in­creased util­iz­a­tion of pub­lic trans­port­a­tion as well as im­proved ped­es­tri­an and bike safety.

To pro­mote pub­lic trans­port­a­tion, JzTI and NK­CDC sug­ges­ted in­creas­ing the num­ber of signs, par­tic­u­larly to and from the pub­lic trans­port­a­tion cen­ters, as well as the use of pub­lic trans­port­a­tion stops in ad­vert­ising.

To im­prove ped­es­tri­an and bike safety, the NK­CDC sug­gests con­sist­ency throughout the streets: prop­er light­ing, bike racks, curb ramps, bet­ter defined side­walks, in­form­a­tion kiosks and signs are all ways in which the com­munity can help to make ped­es­tri­ans and bikers feel safe while trav­el­ing the streets.

“This is not set in stone,” Wil­li­am­son ad­vised, “this is just what has been sug­ges­ted.  It is up to the com­munity to see where it goes.”

Fol­low­ing Wil­li­am­son’s present­a­tion, Hilda Bielecki, Keturah Mc­Cle­ary and SueLin Diaz, of the Phil­adelphia Park­ing Au­thor­ity (PPA) were in­vited to dis­cuss and ad­dress tick­et­ing and per­mit park­ing in the area. 

The three wo­men were met with mixed emo­tions as the audi­ence ad­dressed con­cerns over ob­tain­ing park­ing per­mits as well as the com­munity’s need for ad­di­tion­al en­force­ment of park­ing and traffic vi­ol­a­tions.

While Diaz stressed park­ing per­mits are not a re­quire­ment, she care­fully ex­plained that in or­der to ac­quire park­ing per­mits, res­id­ents of the street in ques­tion must sign a pe­ti­tion.  Once 51 per­cent of the street is in agree­ment, the res­id­ents are then able to pur­chase per­mits. The cost of a park­ing per­mit is $35 the first year, and $20 every year after per vehicle. To be eli­gible for a park­ing per­mit, the res­id­ent must have proof of res­id­ency, their vehicle must be re­gistered to that ad­dress and he or she must have no more than two open tick­ets.

Pe­ti­tions and fur­ther in­form­a­tion are avail­able at web­site at www.philapark.net.

Jam­ie Gaughan, of Fishtown, was in at­tend­ance at Tues­day’s meet­ing.  Gaughan has had a park­ing per­mit for four years and ap­pre­ci­ates the ac­cess and safety the per­mits al­low.

“I think the ma­jor­ity of res­id­ents in the area want per­mit park­ing,” Gaughan said, “and I think the ma­jor roads like Gir­ard Av­en­ue would really be­ne­fit from di­ag­on­al park­ing as well as meters … I’ve been a res­id­ent for eight years and the in­crease in foot traffic has been in­cred­ible. You want to see that, you want to feel good, you want to see your com­munity thrive, but you can’t have suc­cess­ful busi­nesses if someone can’t park.”••

Ques­tion or com­ments? Con­tact the Star at 215 354 3039 or write to Star@bsmphilly.com.

You can reach at ebrooks@bsmphilly.com.

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