Parking Lot Permit Statistics
On a recent walk through all the lots, Plaintalker found that most appear to be underused and in need of maintenance.
On Friday, I picked up results of an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request to know the numbers of permit holders in the various city parking lots.
Monthly permits are $25 for businesses, $30 for residents and $35 for non-residents and must be obtained from the Parking Bureau on West Fourth Street.
According to my requested information, in August there were only 192 permit holders. Broken down by parking lot, here are the numbers:
Lot 1, behind the Strand Theater and between Watchung and Roosevelt off East Front Street: 152 permit spaces, 13 sold in August.
Lot 2, West Second Street and Central Avenue, 76 permit spaces, none sold.
Lot 4, behind McDonald's on Madison Avenue, number of permit spaces "unknown," 14 permits sold.
Lot 5, on East Fourth Street across from Police Headquarters, 106 permit spaces, 37 sold.
Lot 6, East 2nd Street between Park & Watchung, 48 permits sold, although only 39 permit and 71 metered spaces are listed.
Lot 7, on East Seventh Street next to the Scott Drugs parking lot, 62 permit spaces, four sold.
Lot 8, behind the 100 block of East Front Street between Somerset Street and Watchung Avenue, 31 permits sold, although 29 permit and 90 metered spaces available.
Lot 8A, off Lot 8 on the Watchung Avenue side, 26 permit spaces, nine sold.
Lot 9, between West Front and West Second, off Central Avenue, 113 permit spaces, 10 sold.
Lot 10, West Fourth Street between Park and Arlington avenues, 116 permit spaces, 13 sold.
Lot 11, at Cleveland Avenue and East Fourth Street, 29 permit spaces, 13 sold.
Usage of permit spaces stands at about 25 percent, but may increase as recent land use approvals take effect. A church with no onsite parking proposes to use spaces on Lot 9, and several downtown apartment proposals will rely on city lots for parking. Still, except for signs at some of the lots, there is no advertisement of the availability of permit spaces or even of the location of the lots. The most popular ones are Lots 6 and 8, behind stores in the city's one-block prime commercial strip. Lot 5, just steps away from the main train station, has an antiquated sign directing potential permit holders to the nonexistent "Blue Swan Restaurant" to get them.
The very attractive map describing Plainfield as a "City on the Move" and "Your Neighborhood for Success" has no indication of the parking lots. Another map produced this year does not even reflect the city's east-west street designations, let alone parking lots.
Why bother with taking a hard look at parking lots? The most obvious reason is that revenues could be increased. Better signage and maintenance could make the lots more enticing to visitors and shoppers. With very limited on-street parking, the lots could augment private parking for businesses.
The City Council has just established an Economic Growth Committee and the city also has its own Chamber of Commerce and Special Improvement District. Surely parking and the best use of city parking lots must be part of the conversation on the city's future.