It’s been two months since a $230,000 lane re-striping and traffic signal replacement project by the Ohio Department of Transportation removed 18 of Wellington’s downtown diagonal parking spaces.
Nine new spaces parallel to the curb were installed to mitigate that loss, but businesses accustomed to having the diagonal ones in front of their buildings say the changes have had an ongoing negative effect on customers.
“Everyone keeps asking me what happened to all the parking, and I say I have no idea,” said Wendy Xia, owner and operator of Happy Valley Chinese Restaurant since 2008. “I don’t know who thought this would be better. I watch my older customers walk across the street. They can move very slowly and it’s not safe to make them cross all the time. I don’t think it’s right.”
Employees from Dimitri’s Corner Restaurant said the busy holiday season has helped to keep numbers steady but they fear the usually slower springtime will be made even worse by the parking changes.
Older customers have also expressed concerns about having to walk from across the street, especially in cold weather, the employees said.
“I haven’t noticed a big difference in foot traffic,” said Zackery Strobbe, an employee at Fabricated Reality Games. “I have had people complain about not having parking closer to the store, though. People are definitely not liking that walk.”
At a village council meeting on Jan. 3, public works superintendent Bob Brasee said the new parallel parking spaces are too close to passing cars.
“When you come around those corners it is tight,” he said. “I saw a man getting out of his car, his door was sticking out into traffic, and his back was to the traffic. How is that safe? We’re the ones who have to live with this. One lane doesn’t need to be 18 feet wide.”
It’s not just older patrons who have had difficulty with the changes.
Tim Gray, a customer at Wellington Auto Parts, agreed with Brasee about the proximity of passing vehicles to open car doors.
“It’s always busy. There’s no parking,” he said. “I just have to find a parking spot far away and walk across. It is cold and it does suck. There’s nothing I can do about it. Your door is right in traffic when you get out. You have to look in the mirror and time it perfectly.”
Traffic lights installed in the project at the corner of Herrick Avenue and Rt. 58 have already had to be reconfigured because of confusion caused by red arrows on left turn lane signals.
Water superintendent Mark Rosemark, who was then serving as interim village manager, called ODOT to halt plans Oct. 6 when he learned about the loss of parking spaces.
The village unsuccessfully attempted to delay the lane repainting and loss of spaces, with mayor Hans Schneider saying a delay would have cost Wellington $15,000 on top of the $50,000 it has already contributed to the project.
Plans have been drawn for a new parking area near East of Chicago Pizza that would house 15 spaces and cost about $12,000.
Village officials said they were not made aware of the loss of parking spaces when plans were originally raised and blamed the lack of communication on former village manager Steve Pyles.
When reached at his office in Granville, Pyles said he did inform council of the changes.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise Are lanes too close to parking spaces on East Herrick Avenue? This open car door shows just how little space there is to navigate since nine parallel parking spaces were installed in November to compensate for the loss of 18 diagonal ones in downtown Wellington.