Danville studies downtown parking
Most people surveyed are OK with two-hour limit
Last fall Danville officials conducted a survey of downtown merchants and patrons to get a sense of how much parking was used compared to what may be needed. The survey was folded into a traffic study paid for by the town.
Danville Transportation Engineer Associate Andy Dillard said the survey showed that of the 2,929 spaces in downtown Danville, 54 percent were private off-street parking; 28 percent were municipal parking lots; and 18 percent was on-street parking.
"The whole idea," Dillard said, "was to get a better understanding of the parking supply and inventory in our downtown ... where they park, where they go."
Dillard said having a greater understanding of where residents are parking is key to determining if the available parking is sufficient and if the dollars spent by the town in providing these parking areas is showing a return.
The traffic study showed that the Clock Tower Parking Lot has the highest amount of use and turnover. The Front Street Lot is being used but not to the same degree.
"It's a fairly new lot," Dillard said, "so it's not completely filled up during the day."
While some expressed concerns about the two-hour time limit on parking, Dillard said opinions in the survey indicated that parking time was sufficient. He added that areas like Rose Street, on the northeast side of downtown, may be examined for longer parking times.
"There are a lot of service-oriented businesses, nail salons, hair salons; places like that require a longer stay," he explained.
One problem area according to the survey is on-street parking. On the main north-south thoroughfares, on-street parking is in short supply. Dillard said this is not entirely due to shoppers.
"Employee parking continues to be one of the biggest issues we grapple with," he said.
Fifteen percent of the available parking is set up as all-day permit parking just for employees. Dillard said many employees are taking up the on-street spots instead.
The town will be embarking on an education program to work with businesses and their employees to use the permitted spaces instead of parking on the street.
"It's a matter of letting them know where they can park, getting the word out that employee parking is something the town provides, and it's important that they use those spaces," he said.
At this point, one thing that likely will not change is the fact that parking in town is free.
"As a town we feel that's a competitive advantage over other cities," Dillard said. "It's an enticing advantage to bring consumers into the downtown."