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Dormont Officials Look at Reworking Borough Parking Situation

After questions about parking leases and permits arose at the last two council meetings, Dormont officials are looking at what can be done.

Questions about Dormont’s parking situation has led borough officials to begin what council President Bill McCartney said amounts to a nearly total reworking of parking in the borough.

In the absence of a borough manager, he and recreation director Gregor Saulsbery have been researching the borough-owned parking lots, and the documents that dictate parking there.

They’ve found answers to some questions posed by local business owners regarding the leasing of borough-owned parking spaces. But parking in the borough is still under scrutiny by borough officials. McCartney said their research into the matter is far from finished, and they don’t yet have answers for everything.

Relative to leased parking spaces, here’s what they know:

  • The language that legally allows Dormont Borough to lease borough-owned parking spaces is in section 195-24 of Dormont Borough Code—and has been there since council adopted the document on Aug. 2, 1994. The code of the Borough of Dormont is available on the borough’s website.
  • Although that clause has been in the code since 1994, it was not activated until last year, when First Commonwealth Bank approached the borough with a request to lease spaces for customers. When First Commonwealth made the request, former assistant borough manager Ian McMeans researched and developed a cost schedule for leasing parking spaces. The cost for leasing spaces was added to the fee schedule, which was approved by council last summer.
  • Six borough-owned parking spaces have been leased: two to First Commonwealth Bank and four to Dormont Appliance in the Illinois lot. The spaces are leased at $100 per month, per parking space. The lease for Dormont Appliance expires in July.

The 10-space Illinois lot has been the main topic of parking discussion at recent council meetings, because it serves several businesses on West Liberty Avenue.

Business owners in the area argued that by leasing spaces in the Illinois lot, the borough was losing money when compared to what could be collected if the meters were used at all 10 spaces. But total collections from January 2011, compared to those in January 2012, don’t prove that argument.

In January 2011, when meters were used at all 10 spaces, the Illinois lot generated $270.30. In January 2012, the six metered spaces in the lot generated $97—and the four leased spaces generated $400.

It looks good on paper, McCartney said, but that’s not the only thing borough officials want to look at.

“You’ve got to balance that out against the indirect effects that has had on small businesses,” McCartney said. “Relative to the Illinois lot, that was not carefully thought out.”

No other borough-owned spaces have been leased. McCartney and Saulsbery said no other spaces will be leased, although some borough-owned spaces might be affected by the expansion of #1 Cochran’s Nissan dealership on West Liberty Avenue.

“We’re not leasing spaces until we develop a plan,” McCartney said.  “The Traffic and Parking Planning Commission is involved with doing this right now, and we’re looking at developing a policy that is not ‘one size fits all.’ I don’t know what they’re going to come up with right now, but I’m hoping nothing in smaller lots is leased. Hopefully they develop the maximum numbers (of spaces) that can be leased.”

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Ed M February 21, 2012 at 12:03 PM
Considering parking anywhere in Dormont is at a premium, reducing the number of available spaces is absurd.
MSgt. John DeLallo February 21, 2012 at 12:56 PM
Interest rates are at their lowest in decades. Construction is down, and companies will bid low just to keep cash flow moving and workers employed. One or more parking garages is the answer. You can go up, but not if everyone continues to look down. There is this really neat financial program called a municipal bond.
Bob Dini February 21, 2012 at 02:13 PM
For those who believe a parking garage is the sole solution, Mt Lebanon spent $4.5 Million dollars 19 years ago in 1993 for their 269 space parking garage on Washington Rd across from Cedar Blvd..
MSgt. John DeLallo February 21, 2012 at 02:43 PM
That means each space must generate 880.00 per year to break even (17 bucks a week). Given a starting point for leases of 100 bucks a year, several spots will generate 1200.00 annually. A carefully structured rate, and attendant free machines as found in many garages, will kill pension costs, insurance costs, and other personnel costs. We already employ folks to empty meters. This won't impact them, because they'll simply have to service one machine, not x number of parking meters, per garage. Sorry, but I still don't see why Dormont has been so resistant to the idea of a parking garage for all these years.
Bob Dini February 21, 2012 at 02:54 PM
It's worthy of consideration but also take into account acquisition costs of a site to build a structure, tearing down existing building and related tax revenue generated annualy, and the cost of construction based upon nearly 20 years of inflation is likely 50-75 % greater than in 93. We would never need 269 spaces either.
Jamie Keaney February 21, 2012 at 03:17 PM
cost is a barrier, for sure. dormont does not equal Mt. Lebanon. Still I'd like to see someone do some digging to see how many grants are available for it. Lebo also has parking meters that accept debit/credit cards, and have attendant free machines. Personally I don't usually have trouble finding a parking spot in dormont - it's 1 square mile..and most of the shops are close to each other. I haven't found it to be a great difficulty. I do think there needs to be better signage though - some people aren't aware of where public parking even exists.
Cullen Mcgoran February 22, 2012 at 11:44 PM
*COUGHsittingparkCOUGH*
Ed M February 23, 2012 at 12:44 PM
There's a problem with a little green space on West Liberty Ave?

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