Parking is a sensitive issue in Conshohocken. That is why it is incredibly strange that the new Borough Hall (the former Verizon Building) was redeveloped by the Borough itself without adequate parking for its corporate tenants.
If you have attended any of the public meetings that involved proposed developments, the biggest focus is often how the development will impact the neighbors. Members of Borough Council will ask a lot of questions to determine if the off-street parking, mixed with projected public transit use, can handle the tenants of the building. The goal is to not have people coming to the building take public parking spots on the adjacent streets and in the neighborhoods.
So back when the new Borough Hall’s construction was near completion, the Borough had one corporate tenant (the YMCA) move in prior to the building being finished. Signs were put up on a block of Forrest Street (between West 5th and West 6th) stating it was permit parking during daytime hours during the week. There are about 25 spaces along this block of Forrest Street. We thought this situation was temporary due to the building not being completed. On an election day a couple years ago we remember a resident complaining to a member of Borough Council about getting a ticket for parking in one of the spots.
Now the Borough is moving to cement this parking situation into law (view the ordinance here). As you will see Forrest Street, between West 5th and West 6th, will become “Red Zone Parking.” Who gets to use “Red Zone Parking?” The tenants of the building. The Borough Manager tells us it will likely be designated as such between 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (which is absolutely outrageous because if a nearby resident parks there at 7:00 p.m. after work they would have to get up before 6:00 a.m. to move his or her car).
Now if a private developer came to Borough Council and asked for on-street parking spaces to be dedicated to his or her office building’s tenants, that developer would be laughed out of the room. This is a classic example of do as I say, not as I do.
Now a few things. This is perfectly legal. The Borough also does not have to follow its own laws when it comes to certain things (meaning it could ignore its own off-street parking requirements). The parking spaces involved on Forrest are some of the lesser used spaces in the Borough.
However, the Borough’s seizing of these spaces is likely required by the leases it has signed or hopes to sign with corporate tenants. The Borough needs to provide parking spaces. It doesn’t have enough on the property and its taking public spots to meet the need.
If you remember, the Borough considered the eminent domain of a parking lot behind Wells Fargo in 2013. It eventually decided not to pursue that. This shows that parking was considered an issue before the Borough redeveloped the building.
The new parking ordinance will be considered by Borough Council on Wednesday, May 16th at its 7:00 p.m. meeting.
Let us know what you think in the comments.