Westminster has more than 1,100 downtown parking spaces at city-owned parking lots and at street meters but that's not enough, according to area merchants and shoppers who have long requested that the city increase parking.
Tonight, Westminster's mayor and Common Council are expected to award a contract for engineering services for the proposed Longwell parking deck. The deck, which would be built over part of the Longwell parking lot, off Longwell Avenue, would add about 220 parking spaces.
The council is expected to award the $126,200 contract to Whitney, Bailey, Cox & Magnani LLC of Baltimore. The Longwell deck was approved by the mayor and council in 1998.
It was delayed, however, until a 162-space parking deck on the former Farmer's Supply site, near a four-story office, retail, and residential project known as Westminster Square, was under way.
Construction of the Westminster Square-area parking deck, which will likely start next month, could be finished by next summer.
Mayor Kevin E. Dayhoff called the Longwell parking deck "very important to the revitalization of downtown" and said he was excited that the project is moving along.
"Main Street is the heart of our community," he said.
Engineering services for the 2 1/2 -level, $2.1 million Longwell deck were included in the 2001-2002 city budget, but funding has not been secured, according to Thomas B. Beyard, director of planning and public works.
"We have requested some Community Legacy funding," Beyard said.
"It's very likely a project of this size would require some additional borrowing."
Construction on the Longwell parking deck could begin as soon as July next year, he added.
In a 1994 report on Westminster's downtown prepared by consultants HyettPalma of Alexandria, Va., 63 percent of the more than 200 city residents and downtown business owners surveyed rated the improvement and availability of downtown parking as "very important."
In other activity tonight, the council is scheduled to award seven contracts for projects including renovation of the clock tower in the old fire house on Main Street, repair of a retaining wall at City Park and the purchase of new police cars and a 1-ton truck for the streets department.
Also tonight, the council is scheduled to award a $348,000 contract for the construction for the first phase of Westminster Community Trail. The eight-tenths-mile segment of the walking and biking trail will extend from Long Valley Road to Tahoma Farm Road.
Construction could begin in mid-August, after approval from the State Highway Administration, Beyard said.
"This is what makes for a community," Dayhoff, an avid runner, said of the trail. "This is how you meet your neighbors."