Williamsburg set to move forward with downtown parking plan

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – The city says that parking has been a concern since the 1990’s, but hopes its new parking plan will help what they believe is a long overdue fix.

Williamsburg will move forward with the Year 1 recommendations in the city’s new downtown parking plan, which includes installation of sensors in parking spaces to track use and availability and provide assistance in enforcement in timed parking areas.

These sensors will also feed data to an app that will provide real-time parking availability to downtown visitors.

The city received a downtown parking study almost one year ago, plus a presentation on a proposed implementation plan was given at last week’s City Council Work Session.

The 2016 study concluded that Williamsburg’s downtown district does not have a parking shortage, but recognize that Williamsburg has limited parking availability in several high demand blocks.

Officials say that these high trafficked areas create the perception of a parking problem, and are hoping that nine recommendations for the parking issues provided at last weeks meeting will help.

“That perception is in fact a parking problem that limits business development and prosperity in the downtown area,” says Assistant City Manager Andrew Trivette.

Council agreed with the presentation staff to implement the recommendations in phases, keep the phases “modular” or independent, as all phases may not be necessary, and pursue eight of the nine study recommendations.

For some areas of downtown Williamsburg, the city said it will work with certain business owners to pursue private parking agreements. City officials believe that certain parking areas would lack desired impact needed in the high demand blocks that the city wants to focus on. Williamsburg also believes that conflicts between user needs would be unavoidable for certain businesses.

Staff working on the project noted that these recommendations could be revisited in the future if the other actions of the plan were unsuccessful.

“The most important thing to note about this plan moving forward is that it is not an ‘all or nothing’ plan,” says Trivette. “This plan consists of a series of steps that can be taken until the problem is addressed. We might not have to go beyond Year 1 and if we do, there could be several years between phases. City Council did not approve any new, or make any changes to, paid parking. They did agree to pursue a better parking experience in downtown.”

Any future actions regarding paid parking or other improvements will require future meetings of the Council and opportunity for public input, say officials.

The City’s website features a designated Downtown Parking Plan page with background information, plan details, links to documents and contact information.

As the plan is implemented, more information will be added to the website such as videos on the soon-to-be-installed parking sensor technology.