Historic District parking study stalled in planning department

RAP’s transportation committee awaiting response since September

By Steve DiMattia
Resident Community News

In response to the growing concerns over parking in the Historic District, Riverside Avondale Preservation’s Transportation Committee submitted a recommended scope of services for a parking study to the Planning and Development Department. The anticipation was that it would be a relatively quick turn around, considering the mounting pressures on city officials, business owners, developers and citizens groups to come up with long-term, viable solutions that work for everyone.

That was in September.
“We submitted the plan in September to get it in before the end of the fiscal year, but still haven’t heard anything back,” said Kay Ehas, chair of RAP’s Transportation Committee. “I’ve asked Calvin Burney if there was anything we could do to speed up the process and he said, “No.”
Burney is head of planning and the one overseeing the scope’s review.

In an email exchange with a Resident reporter dated Dec. 4, he confirmed: “I have received the [RAP] scope and am utilizing part of it in the development of the final scope.”

Martha Moore, from Ghyabi & Associates, a local planning and engineering firm that has an open-ended consulting contract with the city and would likely conduct the study, said a scope of services helps to define components that the city might like to address in a study.
Ghyabi submitted a scope to the planning department in May that proposed a $60,000 study for the Shoppes of Avondale, but no action was ever taken. Burney has indicated that it may be incorporated along with RAP’s and others’ recommendations into a final scope.
When asked if planning had vetted or approved RAP’s scope, Burney replied in the Dec. 4 email, “The Department will possibly have a final scope for the study by Friday [Dec. 7] or Wednesday [Dec. 12] of next week at the latest” and, “A final scope will be finalized over the next few days.”

Those dates came and went. Recent communication with Burney has shed no light on the scope’s progress beyond the fact that the planning department has committed to $65,000 for a study.

District 14 Councilman Jim Love has taken a special interest in RAP’s scope, which focuses on the Shoppes of Avondale and the King Street business corridor. As of January 19 he had not received any information about the scope’s status.

Love said the recent boom in restaurants and bars in the Historic District has instilled within him a strong sense of urgency for a study.
“With Goozlepipe and Guttyworks, Salty Fig and Mellow Mushroom all online or moving forward, a comprehensive parking study is becoming more and more important. I look forward with anticipation to the completed study,” Love said.

Love is not alone in his anticipation, or the lack of response from the planning department. Aside from RAP and Gyhabi, Mike Field, from Transform Jax also submitted a scope last year without response and Mellow Mushroom’s attorney, Steve Diebenow said in August, “We offered to incur some of the costs [of a study] but no one has taken us up on the offer.”

So, for now, it remains a waiting game as the planning department considers its options for a study. Meanwhile, RAP’s Ehas is looking ahead to where a study fits into solving the Historic District’s overall parking issues.

“RAP’s transportation committee supports a parking study as one piece to a larger mobility plan for the historic district. We submitted a scope proposal to Calvin Burney quite a while ago that includes walking and biking facilities as well as parking. We think it is very important that a steering committee made up of neighborhood merchants and residents guides the study consultant and the scope includes community outreach and input. We do not know what is holding up the study but very much look forward to getting it done,” Ehas said.

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