LIMA — Lima City Council opted to push back funding a downtown parking study in order to give Downtown Lima, Inc. additional time to find secondary contributors during its Monday night meeting.
The resolution considered by council would effectively fund up to 100 percent of the parking study, but councilors didn’t want to commit the $32,000 necessary to pay for the document without giving Downtown Lima, Inc. a chance to the engage the downtown business community and other government entities that would most likely benefit from the study. In an anonymous decision, councilors decided to push the resolution to a second reading to be considered during council’s December meeting.
Downtown Lima Inc. Executive Director Aubrey Kaye said the last time a similar study had been conducted for downtown Lima had been in 1993 — 25 years ago. Since that time, the downtown has attracted a number of new businesses, including some nightlife, that effectively changes downtown parking needs.
Kaye said a parking study would take inventory of those needs by examining land use, potential business opportunities and current parking lots to find a way to better delegate how parking could be used to benefit the downtown.
For that reason, Kaye said she had been discussing potential contributions with organizations that would benefit from a better downtown parking and a friendly business climate. They include the Lima Rotary Club, Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce, Allen Economic Development Group, Rhodes State College and Allen County.
“I think this is absolutely necessary and incredibly beneficial,” Kaye said. “They need to support contributions to this to make it a well utilized plan. Everyone needs to be on board with this.”
Councilors Jon Neeper, Carla Thompson and Jamie Dixon expressed frustration with setting aside funds to pay for the entirety of the study without talking to other organizations.
“I think if we authorize $32,000, that does not incentivize any other entity to do anything,” Neeper said.
Councilor Sam McLean, who owns a downtown business, said the ultimate responsibility for the downtown study would be the city as the municipality regulates parking. McLean, together with his business partner, Ray Magnus, were influential in getting a moratorium placed on weekend parking after they heard complaints about parking tickets from their customers in October.
“The city is more responsible and probably wants to take the lead because we want to know how we end up,” McLean said. “It’s for the good of the city, not for the good of the county.”
“I don’t have a problem putting the ordinance on second reading, but at the end of the day, it’s going to come down to us,” Council President John Nixon said. “We’re going to die of suffocation waiting for the county to pony up for something like this.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.