The Noblesville Common Council unanimously approved an ordinance amending the parking procedures for downtown Noblesville at its Oct. 15 meeting.
The new pilot program shrinks the current two consecutive hours of free parking to a “hashtag shape” centered around the downtown square and extending one block in each direction. The remaining parking spots will be split between always-free parking and paid parking. The current parking ordinance has been in effect since 1989, when the city’s population was one-third of its size today and there was no Hamilton County Judicial Center downtown.
Preceding the vote, Noblesville Police Dept. Chief Kevin Jowitt gave a brief presentation.
“Four weeks ago, I introduced the proposed parking ordinance pilot project to get through next year until the Levinson project comes online,” Jowitt said. “I think this is going to be the best opportunity we have ever had (for parking).”
One benefit to the new program is the ability of the enforcement system to collect plenty of data.
“It’s going to reveal a whole lot of things about the parking situation in Noblesville,” Jowitt said.
Jowitt said after looking through public documents, he found discussion about Noblesville’s downtown parking situation dates back to 1926.
The city also is creating new 20-minute spaces on Logan, Conner and Ninth streets and Maple Avenue.
Dr. Brad Dahlager of Noblesville Family Chiropractic, 953 Maple Ave., requested the parking on Maple Avenue between Ninth and 10th streets remain the two-hour parking it currently is instead of becoming always-free parking.
“I’m here tonight to advocate for my patients, to defend their access to healthcare at my clinic and to ask you to protect their ability to continue to park on Maple between Ninth and 10th streets,” Dahlager said. “The current proposal will turn Maple into a long-term parking lot. It will do to Maple what unrestricted free parking has done to Cherry. This will kill turnover in that segment of downtown. Without turnover, there will be insufficient parking for patients incapable of walking more than a short distance, and, as a result, patients won’t receive the treatment they need. In short, without turnover people will suffer.”
Dahlager said he felt the proposal suffered from tunnel vision in which city leaders only focused on accomplishing the “hashtag shape” for parking. He explained his patients with herniated discs, sciatica, low back pain, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and other ailments may be unable to walk from a parking spot further away from Noblesville Family Chiropractic.
Councilor Rick Taylor acknowledged that Noblesville Family Chiropractic has three designated parking spots along the side of its building.
“I understand what he’s saying, but they (Dahlager’s patients) still have to walk up his steps,” Taylor said.
Councilor Chris Jensen sympathized with Dahlager but remained steadfast on his support for the pilot program as is. Jensen said he even drove by Dahlager’s office during multiple times of the day and found open parking spots periodically.
“This (the parking problem) is something we have looked at for the better part of my life,” Jensen said. “We have to start somewhere. That’s why I felt comfortable with the pilot program.”
Other parking changes include the Noblesville City Hall lot becoming free, unrestricted parking. There also will be certain permit-only lots.
The pilot program will go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.