By Kelcey Norris
A reevaluation of downtown Youngstown’s parking is on the horizon with the amount of parking meters set to increase in front of the Williamson College of Business Administration on Youngstown State University’s campus.
Charles Shasho, the city’s deputy director of public works, said the city will be assessing a comprehensive look at the different parking options, and this is only the first step of the process.
“Fifth Street, Front Street, Federal Street, Commerce Street and Rayen Avenue will all have some pretty significant changes,” he said. “There will be a little less parking on the street, but in the end, it’ll be much more efficient and safer.”
The Youngstown City Council approved the reinstallation of 18 parking meters near the business college.
Shasho said the reinstallation of the meters has been a long time coming.
“When they built the Williamson College, the meters were actually removed because they were in the roadway, and now we’ve started to put them back in,” he said. “We should’ve put them back in immediately, but they were removed temporarily 10 years ago.”
The meters will be located on North Phelps Street, a previous convenient spot for free parking.
The meter prices used to be 25 cents for 75 minutes of parking, but according to Shasho, the rate is set to increase to $1.50 for two hours.
“Twenty-five cents … is really not a typical parking rate and it’s usually a higher rate than that,” Shasho said. “Lincoln [Avenue] is $1.50, so we went up to that.”
Danny O’Connell, director of support services at YSU, said the reinstallment of the parking meters is a good decision on the city council’s part.
“Having spots that turn over every two hours are a big benefit to the students and anyone who needs to visit Williamson,” he said. “If you’re running in and out for a class, having a chance at one of those meter spots for two hours is a heck of a deal.”
O’Connell said the city’s reevaluation of Youngstown parking as a whole is a step in the right direction.
“I travel a lot, and anywhere I go that has a vibrant downtown like ours has more expensive meters,” he said. “I think to keep up with the times and to keep the traffic flow going, we needed to review that.”
In O’Connell’s opinion, the two-hour rate for parking at the meters is not very costly.
“Campus parking is $5 a day, and the price they’re talking about with these meters is more than reasonable,” he said. “Rule of thumb: If the local parking is $5, then the meter parking should be at least $2.50 an hour.”
O’Connell said the addition of the parking meters discourages students from leaving their vehicle parked too long for fear of being ticketed.
“To have someone park in a spot and stay there for days, it just doesn’t make sense,” he said. “That’s not what the neighborhood was designed for.”
Joseph Chapman, a sophomore telecommunication studies major, commutes daily to YSU and believes the city should not be adding more meters on North Phelps Street.
“Even though city hall believes it’s for the best, I think that targeting the students of YSU is a bad look for the city,” he said. “There must be a better location in the city to increase the prices. Students already have plenty of financial burden.”
Chapman said he usually finds a spot on North Phelps Street because there is no extra charge in addition to the YSU parking permit.
“I will still try to park for free,” Chapman said. “I have my ways of avoiding using a meter and they probably won’t change.”