Parking spaces could pay for newest Hamilton ‘pocket park’

City Council recently saw a rendering of a potential layout that included an entry plaza with a place for a sculpture, brick pavers at the intersection, a plaza with tables and chairs, others area that can feature ping pong, cornhole and giant chess matches, along with a “dog park” area with specialized artificial turf for such uses.

Another possibility: about 10 reserved parking spaces at the park’s northern area, which could raise funds to help the Hamilton Parks Conservancy pay for upkeep of the property, which is expected to be heavily used.

“I don’t just want to give it to them and add it to the burden” of maintaining another city park, City Manager Joshua Smith told council. “We could carve out, even if it was 10 parking spaces, I think they would be desirable parking spaces, if they were reserved for someone, that we could get $75-$100 per parking space that would go a long way to creating a nice stream of revenue for the Parks Conservancy then to put back into that park on a monthly basis.”

“This is going to be such a visible park, it’s going to be important that it’s clean every day, that it’s manicured,” Smith said. “In my mind, it’s going to have a lot of activity. It could be one of the busiest parks we have in the city.”

Councilman Timothy Naab noted he has heard some community comments against parking in the park, from people who wonder why Hamilton would want to minimize the green space.

Smith noted that the large Marcum Park, which should be finished by early December, is “two blocks away (and) we had originally contemplated building a building on this site anyway.”

Smith pictures most of the community activity, like games, happening at the park’s south end, closest to High Street. A grassy area near the park’s center could be used more passively, such as by people eating lunch, with the parking at the park’s north end, he said.

“You could do some very nice landscaping and screen that parking, but it would produce a revenue stream that frankly, I’m getting concerned that we’re adding so much to the Parks Conservancy that we need to keep up and make sure that they have the money to operate,” Smith said.

He added it’s not wise to create new responsibilities that do not have “corresponding revenue” to fund them.

The city received grants from organizations to pay for concrete surfaces along the southern section. Most of the park’s costs will be in grading the site and building walls that can be used for seating.

A contractor estimated the work can be largely finished by September, “so they can move really fast on this, which (is) before the State of the City address on Sept. 22, and I want to see some progress,” Smith said with a smile.

In a related matter, Smith said a couple years ago the city removed parking meters off of High Street and the first blocks of 2nd and 3rd streets to encourage people to shop downtown, but over the weekends, some downtown residents and employees have been parking long-term. The city is looking at stepping up enforcement so business customers can more easily find free parking.

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