Woodstock city officials are mulling options to address downtown parking even as they look forward to the construction of a parking deck.

At their last meeting June 17, the city council heard the results of a parking study from consultant SP Plus Municipal Services, which collected data in April on how many cars were parked in the area, what type of parking was used and how long the cars occupied spots.

Sensors detected cars hourly from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on April 10 and April 13 in a study area that covered most central areas of Woodstock’s downtown district and had a total of 976 parking spaces.

The April 10 data, taken on a Wednesday, showed on average 26% available occupancy in the business core and 51% available in ancillary, or residential and off-site, parking.

April 13, a Saturday, was more crowded; an average of only 17% of the studied parking spots in the business core areas were available, though there was an average of 51% available in ancillary parking. In their report, the researchers noted that low availability of business core parking would cause the downtown area to “effectively feel full to visitors.”

Drivers who stayed parked for more than four hours were found to be a substantial portion of occupancy. More than 30% of spots were occupied for more than four hours on both 225 vehicles Wednesday and 151 vehicles Saturday parked for at least that long.

Vehicles that were parked for more than four hours on average were there a total of seven or more hours. Average parking times for those parked less than four hours ranged 35 to 40 minutes. Based on the April 13 data, parking spaces could be turned over 2,146 times in the duration cars are occupying them past the four-hour mark, according to the report.

The consultants recommended the city create a parking district, which could be incorporated in comprehensive plans and effect zoning requirements. SP Plus also recommended paid parking, time limited parking or some combination of the two to increase turnover. City staff are holding off on making recommendations to elected officials for now, however.

“I would say nothing is off the table, but City Council has not advised us to move forward with any of the listed recommendations or a combination of any of them,” said Brian Stockton, Woodstock’s director of economic development and of the Downtown Development Authority.

The update came while Woodstock officials are waiting to build a parking deck as part of the planned city center until Morgan’s Hardware moves out of its downtown store. The city plans to build the deck with about 400 spaces. According to Stockton, the move is estimated to be finished in the spring next year.

The city center project will add a hotel; a parking deck; retail, office and restaurant space; and street and pedestrian improvements in the Arnold Mill Road corridor.

Shannon is a reporter covering education, city governments, crime, features, religion and other local news. She is a graduate of Young Harris College and currently lives in unincorporated Woodstock.

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