When HDR was founded 10 years ago, the definition of downtown’s parking problem was that there were not enough people using the lots, therefore the parking lots and decks had many vacancies. One strategy to address that issue was to remove the parking meters and offer free parking. Now with the rather dramatic increase in the number of businesses downtown and people shopping, dining, visiting, working, and living in the district, there are times when finding convenient parking is a challenge, particularly in the Water Street parking deck.
In 2009, the city and HDR collaborated to hire a transportation consultant, John Edwards, to undertake a parking study and make recommendations. He projected that, by 2014, downtown would need 450 – 500 additional parking spaces. Several businesses have expressed concern that there has been no action to address this issue and that the time has arrived to make downtown parking a priority.
In order to promote wise decision-making, updated and accurate data is important. HDR and Downtown Parking Services are working with a JMU graduate Public Administration class taught by Dr. Nick Swartz to focus on downtown parking as their class project. In addition to surveying the parking utilization rates at various locations during different times of the day and evening, as well as addressing several other parking-related matters, the students will interview many business owners and downtown customers regarding their perspective on parking issues.
Eddie Bumbaugh is the Executive Director for Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance.