City works to solve parking issues

Future businesses, buildings downtown raise concerns for vehicle space

In the next decade, new shops, restaurants, office complexes and apartments are all planned in downtown Greenwood, making parking a key concern.

Currently, visitors to the city’s Freedom Fest and WAMMfest events often park in the nearby Greenwood Middle School parking lots, but those will soon be gone when the city demolishes the school to build businesses and apartments.

And a proposal for a downtown parking garage was put on hold due to cost concerns.

Now, the city is exploring other options to make more parking available downtown, including partnering with a local church to build a shared parking lot on Meridian Street. The church, school and the city have long had informal agreements where parking was shared. Parishioners would use school lots during weekend services, parents would use the church parking lot during sports games and other school events, and residents heading to downtown festivals or to local parks would often make use of the church’s lot during the week.

Now, a new parking lot is planned to be built on two properties just north of the church on Meridian Street. The church will spend about $400,000 to purchase and demolish the homes, as well as perform landscaping work. The Greenwood Redevelopment Commission will pay about $500,000 to build the parking lot. The city will be responsible for maintaining the pavement and filling potholes. The church will take care of the cost of the electric bills from lighting, removing snow and maintaining the landscaping.

The approximately 160-space parking lot will be available for people coming to events or to visit parks, except during Saturday evening and Sunday morning, when it will be set aside for churchgoers, Greenwood City Attorney Krista Taggart said.

Getting the agreement in place would help resolve one of the main concerns from residents and elected officials about the city’s future downtown plans, Taggart said.

The church purchased two homes in between its parking lot and Surina Way in anticipation of the eventual need to expand its parking lot when the middle school is gone, since churchgoers often use that lot, church business manager Fran Reiley said.

Because of the agreement with the church, the city now has the option to explore further ways to improve the Meridian Street and Surina Way intersection, including designing the parking lot so that drivers get a better view of traffic at the intersection of Meridian Street and Surina Way, where a hill can block the view for drivers, Greenwood Capital Projects manager Kevin Steinmetz said. The redevelopment commission is spending $8,800 for a consultant to study visibility improvements, Steinmetz said.

Work on the new parking lot likely won’t begin until next year, as the church needs to give time to residents renting the homes, Reiley said. Because the church property is owned by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, they also have to wait for officials there to finish reviewing the agreement, she said.

The city also is working to set up an agreement with another downtown church, First Baptist Church of Greenwood, to aid in the redevelopment of Old City Park, Steinmetz said.

The city and the church, which is at 99 W. Main St., are discussing a land swap. The church will give the city a small slice of land on the southwest side of its parking lot, which the city will use to install a path to connects its public parking lot on Main Street south to the park, he said.

In exchange, the city will give the church some land that will allow the church’s exit onto Meridian Street to remain once Machledt Drive is turned into a trail, Steinmetz said.

The redevelopment commission approved paying about $3,800 for a survey to be done of the properties, Tilson said.

Author photo
Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jtellers@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2702.