Signs line Main Street in New Carlisle demanding that a turn lane at Main Street and Jefferson Street not be installed because it would take up the space for on street parking Thursday. Bill Lackey/Staff

New Carlisle to keep downtown parking spots after businesses protest

A plan to add a turning lane and eliminating more than 30 parking spots in downtown New Carlisle has been turned down.

The Ohio Department of Transportation and the city of New Carlisle had proposed adding new traffic signals on Main Street at the intersections of Lake Avenue and Jefferson Street. The plan also included adding turn lanes that would have caused many street parking spots to go away. The cost of the project would have been close to $650,000.

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Business owners voiced concerns immediately when they learned of it, hanging signs in their storefronts, and some city council members expressed doubt about the project.

New Carlisle City Council Member Jim Leathley said in June that he didn’t believe council members would approve the plan.

“We do not want to take the parking away,” Leathley said. “In our discussions, there has not been one council member that is in favor of that.”

He said the proposal came from the state.

And after a public comment period that included a meeting attended by several opponents, city leaders have decided to keep the parking spaces.

“Public comment results saw adamant refusal to remove parking spaces for the dedicated turn lanes,” City Manager Randy Bridge said in an email. “This would cause a detrimental economic effect on the city and our local businesses.”

The city will still upgrade the traffic light at the intersection, he said.

“The turn lanes will not be added, but the new signals will,” Bridge said. “The city never intended on adding the turn lanes, but since federal dollars are to be used, we had to look at an alternative. In this case, it was the turn lanes.”

Bridge and New Carlisle City Service Director Howie Kitko are reviewing plans for the new signals and hope to have more information on them soon. No timeline for the new signals has been announced.

There’s a chance however that a couple parking spots will have to be removed because of the new signals, city council member Ethan Reynolds said. He said the stop bar might require some space.

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Reynolds said he was happy to hear the city was moving in a different direction and wouldn’t eliminate the 30-plus parking spaces. Reynolds had been a vocal opponent of the proposal.

“It’s not a complete victory, I am counting it as a partial one until we find out what we will actually lose,” he said.

The news that the parking spots will be saved was welcome to downtown business owners. Sarah Trimbach, owner of World Threads, said the proposal could have had severe cost to her business.

“If they were to take away parking that would have been detrimental to me and the rest of downtown as a whole,” she said. “Successful downtowns have street parking.”

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Michael Maxwell, who owns Arrowhead Tax Service in downtown New Carlisle, also opposed the plan because of the loss of street parking. He said he was against it because he feared people with disabilities wouldn’t have an easy place to park to access downtown businesses.

“This is about safety,” he said. “There will be no place to park right in front of the place they are going to or close by.”

Terah Harness and her family like to come to Penny Lane Art Gallery and Coffee Shop in downtown New Carlisle. She’s glad the on-street parking will be preserved.

“Because it’s just easy to get in and then get back out and not have any troubles like walking far,” Harness said.

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