Work on downtown parking lot to begin

PARKERSBURG – After several weeks of delay, work is set to begin on a Juliana Street parking lot.

Officials with the city and West Virginia University at Parkersburg have signed an agreement allowing the city to build and manage an hourly parking lot at Seventh and Juliana streets.

The deal was delayed last month due to confusion over state approval by West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education, also known as the CTC. The group met in June, but approval of the parking agreement was not on its agenda. The CTC does not meet again until August.

Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell said Wednesday officials were recently informed by the CTC that state approval was not required.

“They decided they did not need to take it to the full board for approval, so we’ve signed the agreement with WVU-P’s board of governors and are ready to move forward,” Newell said.

Crews already are looking to remove two trees on the property, and site prep could begin as early as next week, Newell said. Most of the prep work will be done by city crews and construction of the parking lot will be bid out, he said.

Officials have said the lot would be used primarily by students at WVU-Parkersburg downtown campus on Market Street, but it would provide temporary parking for any visitors to downtown. Right now people must either find street parking or pay for monthly parking spaces.

Newell said the new parking lot will be hourly spaces, but instead of meters the lot will have a kiosk where people can purchase time, either with cash or through credit or debit card.

“One thing we hope to do is to provide a smart card system for students” attending WVU-P’s Market Street campus, Newell said. “They would be able to park at a discounted rate, though it will be up to the college as to how that occurs, whether it will be part of their tuition and fees or purchased ahead of time.”

Newell said the city will be responsible for construction and management of the lot, but also will keep any revenue from the site, which will be used to cover the cost of construction.

An artist’s rendering of the parking project shows two levels. Newell said while the current project only involves one level, the city will look at the possibility of adding a second level down the road, and whether steps need to be taken now to make that possible, such as putting in footers.

“We will be looking at that, and at what our plans will be for the future,” Newell said. “Transitional parking has been an issue for the downtown for a while now, and with new restaurants and businesses going into the downtown, we need to give customers more parking options. This should help with that.”