West Franklin Street study targets potential development

Local News

On foot, on a bike, or in a car, Evansville leaders look at how to make West Franklin Street better for everyone. Development could come to the historic district, but change isn’t cheap. 

Some perceive parking a problem there. “Not enough” of it, says Evansville-Vanderburgh Area Plan Commission President, Stacy Stevens.

“Everybody keeps referring to the problem? What’s the problem?” questions board member, Cheryl Musgrave.

Whether there’s a “problem” depends who you ask, but recommendations made to APC on Thursday go well beyond where you leave your car.

A recent study shows there is 1,178 parking spots in the West Franklin Street district; enough to support peak demand, but APC attorney, Dirck Stahl says, “they’re not always in the right place and not always available at the right times.”

Alta Planning and Design has studied the west side street. Paul Wojciechowski says it could benefit from a parking management group, made up of members from different west side organizations; like the Franklin Street Business Association, Franklin Street Events Association, Lamasco Neighborhood Association, and a resident at-large.

Wojciechowski says the group would be tasked with controlling shared parking agreements between businesses to improve the parking situation outside of public on-street spaces. Vanderburgh County Surveyor, Jeffery Mueller isn’t convinced it will work.

“What’s the incentive for you to provide shared parking?” he asks Wojciechowski. “I wouldn’t want a bunch of cars parking in my parking lot at night or having to clean up.”

Alta says not everyone will want to join in, but Wojciechowsk believes west siders will want to come together to help everyone.

“There’s a range of people that said, ‘don’t touch it, stay away from it,’” Wojciechowski explains, “to ‘we need a lot of changes.’”

The study recommends wider sidewalks in the neighborhood immediately north and south of Franklin Street, new bike lanes, more shared bike stations, new lights, and more visible signs to point cars to parking, which could be protected with residential parking passes, along with 12-hour and 2-hour spaces.

Development could total $1.5 million, which is about the total City Council cut from the 2018 budget after a 4.5-hour meeting Monday night.

Members of the APC say these are long term goals. Nothing is official, and some changes could come sooner than others, if funding is available.

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