City efforts to attract more people downtown and to the waterfront -- with summer cruise nights and new restaurants -- include making room for more cars to park by turning Columbia Street into a one-way street.
The short brick road between Goundry and Tremont streets will have space for 45 cars to park after a planned spring construction, City Engineer Dale Marshall said at a Common Council workshop meeting Tuesday evening.
Columbia is near the new Remington Lofts development in an old Sweeney Street factory building. A new restaurant, Remington Tavern, is expected to open at the Lofts this summer.
"They're really hamstrung for parking," said Marshall. "It's a good problem for the city to have."
He said he could imagine the city attracting crowds of people who would park and then stroll and admire the city and its buildings and green space, as they do at a Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.
"We gotta find ways where we can be innovative," Marshall said.
The city budgeted $110,000 to convert grassy areas along Columbia into slanted parking spots. "Where it's grass," he said, "it's going to be asphalt."
Extra space will also come by changing the street from a two-lane, two-way street to a one-way street with just a single lane, he said.
Marshall would like to try a similar approach on a block of Webster Street, near a triangular park where Webster, Goundry and Main meet. Turning that portion into a single, one-way lane would make room for about 20 spaces.
He will propose that as planning begins to redesign Websterin the months ahead. A newly won federal grant for $500,000 will allow the city to add "rain garden" plantings along the street with new trees, grass and plants that will filter rain water before it goes into the canal.
"There's going to be a dramatic change into the look of downtown," he said. "My goal would be to have it under construction a year from today."