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Downtown permit parking rejected — why CareSource scares neighbors

A proposal to create new permit parking in a residential part of downtown has been shot down by the Dayton Plan Board.

The plan would have prohibited parking on Harries Street and Ice Avenue except for people who live in the neighborhood or allow guests and visitors to use placards they would receive.

Some neighbors said they fear that when CareSource’s new office building opens next year, some of the hundreds of people employed there will take up all of the free spaces on Harries and Ice streets.

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“When CareSource goes in there with 600 employees, it will only take 15 of them to gobble up all of the spaces …” said Paul Woodie, a Cooper Lofts resident. “That’s going to be an issue, so we need to address it.”

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Cooper Place, bordered by Harries Street and Ice Avenue, already has permit parking, which dates back decades.

But plan board members said the city needs to take a broader look at downtown parking and come up with a larger plan because it would be shortsighted to approve the permit proposal. Some board members said that part of downtown shouldn’t receive special treatment.

CareSource says it has a parking plan for its employees that will prevent disruption in the nearby neighborhoods.

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Residents of some housing developments near Second Street and Patterson Boulevard put together a proposal to turn about 15 on-street parking spots into permit parking.

The spaces, located along the west side of Harries Street and the north side of Ice Avenue, often are used by people who live in the enclave of homes and condos or who are visiting residents.

The surrounding developments include Patterson Place (31 homes), the Litehouses (nine homes), the Ice Lofts (17 condos) and the Cooper Lofts (25 condos).

Patterson Place and Litehouse homes have garages and some off-street spaces. Ice Lofts have 18 spaces in the basement of the building.

Cooper Lofts has about 35 spaces in a first-floor garage.

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At least one condo owner in the Ice Lofts does not have a dedicated underground parking space. That’s because some early buyers of the two-bedroom units building qualified for two spaces.

Some people who live in the Ice and Cooper lofts do not have any reserved off-street spaces.

“We have more cars in our building than spaces to park,” said Steve Seboldt, who was one of the first residents in the Ice Lofts. “We have at least three, possibly four individuals who require street parking to reside at Ice Avenue.”

Multiple people who live in Cooper Lofts have two cars and rely on street parking.

The on-street parking in that area is free, except for one metered spot in front of Cooper Lofts. The spots are in high demand and tend to fill up fast during Dayton Dragons baseball games, festivals at RiverScape and other special events nearby.

But neighbors say they are most concerned about what will happen when CareSource opens its new office building, which is going up at East First and St. Clair streets.

A few residents and property owners said it’s “astounding” that the city did not require CareSource to build new parking for the employees who will work in its new six-story building.

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But CareSource collaborated with the city and will provide parking in the Dayton Transportation Center and the City Hall Parking Garage for staff who work in the new office building, said Dan McCabe, chief administrative officer of CareSource.

CareSource expects to offer a shuttle service and will have more details in coming months, McCabe said.

“We want the neighborhood in and around Harries Street and the Ice Avenue Lofts to remain accessible to those who live and work there,” he said. “Sharing in the revitalization of downtown Dayton has always been our goal and there will be no disruption in their access to the parking they currently enjoy. We have ample parking already reserved and have no plans to use public parking.”

The new building, called the Pamela Morris Center, will have the capacity for 710 employees and is slated to open in the spring of 2019.

But there’s also other pressure on the parking in that part of downtown because new restaurants, bars, amenities and housing have moved in. The Water Street developer is looking at possibly adaptively reusing Memorial Hall, which is just north of the condos and townhomes, which could lead to higher parking demand.

But plan board member Greg Scott said any neighborhood in the city could argue its residents deserve permit parking because they aren’t guaranteed to get spots near or in front of their homes.

Scott and other board members raised concerns that people might abuse the permits by selling or lending them to friends or downtown workers. He also said he permit parking system might burden parking enforcement and police resources.

Board members said they don’t want to set a precedent that could come back to bite them later on, when other downtown parking issues inevitably arise.

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