Solutions sought for Broad Ripple parking woes


Mary Milz/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - Ask people the hardest place to snag a parking spot in the city and chances are good they'll say Broad Ripple.

Heather Coffy, who steered into an open spot Wednesday afternoon, said, "I work in Broad Ripple and if I go out to lunch I know it's going to be a nightmare to find parking. Immediately when I saw this opening I thought, something's wrong."

Madgeline Parrish, who holds a night and day job, in the village said it's much worse on weekends.

"It's because you have people from Butler coming and other people going out late at night to the bars and they all want to party in Broad Ripple. That's when it's crazy and packed," she said.

Mayor Greg Ballard says he wants to alleviate the traffic jam by building a parking garage, something that's been talked about for years. He says it's long overdue.

"We know we want it, we know what area in general," Ballard said. "We would like to see it done next year, really."

The mayor said his staff has already scouted several sites including one near 62nd and College, where Trash to Treasures was having a "losing our lease sale."

Co-Owner Debbie Kelly said, "We've heard rumors to that effect, but that's not why we lost our lease."

Kelly said her lease was up and an adjacent salon is expanding.

Still, Kelly said she understands the need for more parking as she routinely has cars towed from her parking lot weekend nights.

"I think [a garage] is needed but whether it will help, I'm not sure. It seems like people who come to Broad Ripple want to find parking for free."

But bartender Kate Licklieter believes a parking garage could drive more business.

"I know I've driven in circles many times trying to find a spot. I think [a garage] is great. We have a lot of $5 parking so on weekends people flock to those areas," she said.

The mayor also wants no parking for anyone but residents on nearby streets. Once a garage is built, he said he would like to issue "residential parking permits."

Alexis Snyder, who lives a block south of Broad Ripple Avenue, said she and her roommates are able to park in their driveway, but they know parking is an issue for many of their neighbors.

"Because we're so close to all the nightlife, all those [street] spaces fill up on weekends. We let people pile in our driveway and yard," Snyder said. "I've been known to stand there, direct and flag."

Elizabeth Marshall, President of the Broad Ripple Village Association, said merchants strongly favor a garage and the permits, not just to ease traffic and parking issues, but "from a public safety perspective."

Referring to recent muggings, she said, "Thieves look for crimes of opportunity and when they see people walking back to cars on dark streets, that's an issue."

The mayor estimates the cost of a parking garage to run between $7-$8 million. He wants to pay for it out of a proceeds from a deal to modernize the city's parking system by entering into a 50-year lease with Dallas-based ACS.

Under the agreement the city would get $35 million up front and a cut of future parking revenue, but the deal has come under fire. Among other things, critics argue the city has no out on the contract and limited flexibility. It faces penalties when it bags meters or removes them, which some say hampers urban planning.

While the mayor said he's hopeful that by tweaking parts of the contract, he can still win council approval, he also said he'll pursue the garage either way.

He said funding could come from the pending sale of the city's water and sewer systems to Citizens Gas.