WESTMINSTER — The city's parking committee was dragged out of mothballs Wednesday to confront what are expected to be worsening parking conditions in and around downtown.
The five-member panel met for about two hours at City Hall to organize and conduct a wide-ranging discussion on parking issues.
No substantive recommendations were decided. Instead, the group identified primary issues for which it will be called upon to provide answers to the City Council in the coming months.
"This is just a 'let's get to know each other' session and to get information disseminated," said committee member Wayne Barnes, whom the group elected aschairman. Barnes also chaired a parking subcommittee that made recommendations for the recent Downtown Task Force report.
The other committee members are Councilmen Samuel V. Greenholtz and William F. Haifley; Dolores Maminski and Jeff Smelser.
Perhaps the biggest chore the panel faces, said Greenholtz, is the perception by many that there is no parking problem.
Also, the recent purchase of the Sherwood distillery building on
Distillery Drive by the Carroll County Board of Education will give the committee plenty to discuss. The schoolboard could eventually bring its 160 employees to the facility, which has only 104 parking spaces.
The problem could be exacerbated ifthe building's current tenant -- the Department of Social Services -- relocates in the downtown area.
"If the school board comes and DSS stays downtown, we have a massive problem," Greenholtz said.
The panel also will grapple with a proposal for a residential parking permit program. Neighborhoods adjacent to downtown have experienced difficulties as downtown workers and shoppers look to residential streets for parking to avoid pay-to-park city lots.
Committee members agreed that a parking garage could be an eventual necessity for the city and resolved to generate short-term solutions until such a projectcould be undertaken.
"We need to consider two things: What to do between now and when we get a parking garage, and how are we going toget a garage," said Greenholtz.
The committee's next meeting is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 1, at City Hall.