Main Street bridge parking debated

imberly Dick

Additional parking spaces, created on the Main Street bridge in August, have stirred a plethora of resident response to the change in traffic pattern — both positive and negative.

Discussion of angled two-hour parking spaces on the bridge, along West Main Street between River Street and North Mantua Street in downtown Kent, is on Kent’s City Council meeting agenda tonight.

Approved by city council Oct. 13 of last year, the current parking space situation could be changed, said Mike Weddle, economic development coordinator.

“A change was brought up at the last Parking Action Committee meeting at the end of August,” Weddle said.

Removing one or two spots at the West end of the lot to make more room at the intersection was discussed at the meeting, but PAC is not advising to do so at this time.

For now, a letter was sent to city council to maintain the existing configuration.

“A change could happen in the future, but it is not a guarantee,” Weddle said. “There has been some opposition to the lot since it has gone into place. No one complained before the spaces were created.”

Tony Filomena, Kent resident and retired police officer who served on traffic and safety committees, is against this parking lot.

“It’s ridiculous having parking on the bridge,” Filomena said. “ It leaves a real short lane to turn right to Gougler Avenue.”

Cars stacking up on the bridge waiting to turn right have become a problem because now there is only room for a couple cars in that lane.

“Before, people could just turn right, but now I’ve seen cars lining up to the railroad tracks,” Filomena said. “It’s an accident waiting to happen. I’ve checked at various times of the day, and no one is ever parked there. They are afraid of getting hit.”

Parking on the bridge may cause accidents, but there haven’t been any that Weddle knows about since the parking was added, he said.

On the other hand, this new configuration is easier for bikers and pedestrians because people can’t drive as fast over the bridge.

“I was driving down the road and I though ‘Woah, that’s money well spent,’” said Kent resident Andrew Kunos of the bridge parking. “Whoever decided on this is brilliant. It’s a wide bridge, and there was a lack of spaces for people to visit the park and the city businesses. It’s money well spent.”

Kent’s Service Department funded this lot.

“There is not a lot of money involved to put this project together. You ground some paint off the pavement and repaint,” Weddle said.

Completing the project cost roughly $3,000, said Gene Roberts, Kent service director.

The concept for parking on the Main Street Bridge came from the council-appointed PAC, said Weddle. PAC was voted into place in 2003.

Residents should direct comments to their council members or Mike Weddle at (330) 678-8101 or [email protected].

Contact public affairs reporter Kimberly Dick at [email protected].