Downtown parking analysis shows pinches, not problems

While parking can become strained in certain areas of downtown at certain times, ample parking is available for those willing to walk a block, according to a recent Parking Supply and Demand Analysis of downtown Claremore.

The study, which was conducted on three days on the first week of October, concluded that there were times when public parking approached capacity in certain areas, yet additional parking was available within one or two blocks.

In fact, during the study, the average utilization of the public parking was 52 percent over the three-day span.

Claremore Main Street Executive Director Jessica Jackson and Parking Study Organizer Dr. Ray Brown presented the findings to the City Council during its regular Feb. 20 meeting.

Volunteers reviewed 253 public and 313 private parking spaces at five separate times during each day of the study, beginning at 9:30 a.m. and then again every two hours ending at 5:30 p.m. The study included two weekdays – a Tuesday and a Thursday – and a Saturday.

“To understand the parking situation downtown, you must look not only at the overall utilization rate but the utilization rates on specific streets during the most popular times on a weekday,” Brown said.

The highest utilization was observed on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. when the overall downtown occupancy approached 80 percent. During that time, parking along Muskogee Avenue and Missouri Street exceeded 90 percent capacity but Will Rogers Boulevard still had some parking available and Cherokee Avenue had nearly 30 percent of its spots available.

Additionally, data showed that about 15 percent of the vehicles parked downtown did so for six or more hours, likely representing downtown employees and residents.

Utilization of the private parking spaces was considerably lower with an average of 33.6 percent. While a few lots were heavily utilized, most were observed as underutilized throughout the study.

The analysis serves as a baseline of how much parking is available in the historic downtown district and how it is used. The data will be vital as parking needs increase through area growth.

“We felt like the parking analysis was important to accurately assess where the pinches are so we have a starting point to establish our future plans for the entire downtown that reflect actual needs,” Jackson said. “Finishing the analysis is just step one.”

In the short term, Claremore Main Street volunteers and partner organizations will look to examine streets to ensure all public parking is clearly striped and will encourage partnerships with private lots to increase public parking availability.

The organization is also looking at ways to enhance streetscapes and promote walkability of the district.

“For the future economic development of downtown, two things need to happen,” Brown said. “First, walking should be encouraged by developing a more attractive streetscape. Second, additional parking spaces must be made available to the public.”

“Ultimately the economic success of downtown will depend on the construction of a parking facility which will likely require a private/public partnership,” he added.

The parking study was conducted by Main Street’s Economic Vitality committee. The City of Claremore and the Claremore Industrial and Economic Development Authority were partners in the project.

Claremore Main Street is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that works to enrich downtown Claremore by promoting a healthy downtown economy, advocating for revitalization and historic preservation and hosting quality of life activities.

Download the full parking study here.

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