Parking lot plan passes city committees

PARKERSBURG – A plan to create a parking lot at Seventh and Juliana streets passed two committees this week and will go before the full Parkersburg City Council on Tuesday.

The empty lot was given to West Virginia University at Parkersburg in April by the Erickson Foundation. Mayor Bob Newell said the college and the city want a parking lot.

Newell said officials are waiting for a lease agreement to be reviewed at the state level because WVU-P is a public college.

Both the city Finance and Public Works committees Tuesday approved motions to send that agreement on to council for a full vote once it is returned by the state.

Newell also presented letters of support for the project from the Downtown Task Force and the Greater Parkersburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Newell said the proposed agreement would include a long-term, low cost lease between WVU-P and the city. The city would lease the property for a nominal fee, $1 a year for 50 years, and would take on the cost of creating and maintaining the parking lot.

The city also would oversee parking enforcement for the lot and would take in all revenue. That revenue would be used to pay off the cost of the lot, which Newell estimated could occur in just a few years.

The lot would charge hourly for its 36 spaces. Newell said the lot likely would be accessed and spaces paid for through an unmanned kiosk.

Newell estimates the project will cost about $88,000 and will come out of the city’s parking fund.

“Down the road we could add a second level, if needed,” he said.

Newell said initial architectural drawings of that area proposed a two-level parking garage, which is still feasible. Councilman John Kelly asked for an engineer to look at the lot and give council an idea of how much it would cost to put in the footers for a second level now.

“If we might put a second level on it at some point, I’d rather we have those footers in place now rather than putting down a parking lot and then tearing it up to create a new one down the road,” he said.

Councilwoman Kim Coram added a stipulation to the motion approved by the Finance Committee requiring one space to be set aside for covered bicycle spaces, and for benches and bioswales to be installed on the lot.