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Timed spots, more spaces possible fixes to downtown parking

Main Street, downtown Marble Falls, Texas

The Marble Falls Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone Board Number One looked at possible solutions to the city's downtown parking problem during a Feb. 28 meeting. Staff photo by Nathan Bush

Creating timed spaces on Main Street is one solution to a lack of downtown parking under consideration by the Marble Falls Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone Board Number One. Also discussed at the board’s regular meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 28, were additional parking spots near and around Main and ways to get store owners and employees to park offsite. 

Commissioning a $32,000 parking study was taken off the table as soon as board members heard the going price. 

“I honestly had no idea it would be $32,000,” said TIRZ board member Mitch McManus, adding that he thought $10,000 was too much when that cost was mentioned at an earlier meeting. 

The ideas came from the Downtown Parking Subcommittee, which was formed during the TIRZ board’s Jan. 24 meeting.

The push for more parking spaces stems from the area’s recent growth, said Downtown and Marketing Manager Erin Burks.

“We’re in a transitional period where people still want to come downtown and they want to park right on Main Street,” she said. “We’ve got to change that perception or you may not be able to park right on Main Street. You may have to park once removed from the core of where you’re going.”

Rather than rely on a costly study, board members discussed expanding downtown parking on Second Street and on Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth streets just off of Main.

“The city owns all of that property, and it is basically level,” McManus said. “We can add spots there. You have to have a place for people that normally park on Main Street to park and it not be ridiculously inconvenient.”

Timed parking spaces would be difficult to enforce, McManus said, but he believes they could be worthwhile if the board commits to additional untimed spaces.

“The enforcement thing is important,” he said. “I think it has to be done in conjunction with us grabbing all the easy spaces and making them parking spots. I think a two-prong approach is the way to do it.”

Board members also explored ways to convince downtown employees and business owners to stop parking on Main Street.

“If the people that work in downtown would just get off the street and park elsewhere, it would open up a lot of spots,” board member Rebecca Nunnally said. 

The downtown district’s size will make blanket rules difficult to enforce, McManus said.

“The problem is you have 20 business owners, not one,” he said. “When you have 20, if they’re not all a consensus, nobody is going to do it if everyone else isn’t doing it.”

At the end of the meeting, member Lori Brix submitted several public studies on parking for perusal before the next TIRZ board meeting on March 28.

“There are sites that already have parking studies done,” she said. “It’s not easy when you start looking through these things, but they are specific and could be helpful.”