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Columbia officials get residential parking talk going

Columbia Public Works is taking steps toward addressing central-city residential parking issues with a meeting set for Tuesday night.

The meeting is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. at Benton Elementary School and will be led by Public Works officials and consultants hired by the city council for $125,000 to study the issue. Walker Consultants director of studies Philip Baron will lead the facilitated discussion.

Columbia Public Works Parking and Transit Manger Leah Christian said the consultants are creating a group that includes neighborhoods, universities and other organizations affected by parking in these communities.

The neighborhoods included in the discussion are East Campus, Benton-Stephens, Westmount, North-Central and the Grasslands.

“Those folks tend to have issues with folks parking on their streets and not always having parking for themselves or for their guests,” Christian said. “They have been frustrated a long time with that issue.”

Christian said the main goal of Tuesday night will be to get feedback and ideas about solution for the parking problem. They are proposing a couple different solutions, including a Resident Parking by Permit Only program in the neighborhood. This program would make certain street parking only for residents, which would be enforced all day and night. This program would include guest permits as well.

The North Central neighborhood in Columbia is the only neighborhood that currently has a small area of permit-only parking.

Christian said she isn’t sure if residents will have to pay for the permits yet. She said it will depend on what Walker Consultants say in their financial recommendation.

Another possible solution would be putting up more signage or painting more curbs for neighborhoods that don’t want the new permit program, Christian said.

Walker Consultants will conduct an analysis of the current parking situation and provide the city with recommendations.

Columbia Public Schools, the University of Missouri, Stephens College and Columbia College as well as other businesses and neighborhood associations will be a part of the conversation.

Columbia Public Schools spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said there are concerns about with parking around Benton STEM Elementary School. The school is located in the Benton-Stephens neighborhood, and she said there are limited parking areas and space for bus pick up and drop off.

Rebecca Kline, director of communications for Stephens College said the university understands the issues around parking in these neighborhoods.

“Stephens College just wants to be a good neighbor. We’re there to problem solve, talk to our neighbors, talk to our neighbors in higher education, and just be part of the solution,” she said. “We all know that Columbia is growing, and that’s great but it does put a new burden on parking.”

Check back later for more on this story.

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