At the Streets, Buildings & Grounds Committee meeting of February 10, 2020, Mayor Forthofer provided a power point presentation to Council on the plans of the Fulper Lot. He explained eight months ago they had discussion about the city-owned property at the corner of Liberty and Grand. Some suggested they should turn this area into a parking lot. He was of the opinion they should follow what some city planners do and what their own city planners did for the City of Vermilion, which is continuing the point of the interest to commerce, or commerce and residential, what is traditionally done to keep downtown's vibrant.
He was given the okay from Council to look for people who might be interested. In eight months he has had people who politely showed interest, but no one who showed serious interest in investing in building something of this type. They entertained the idea of it being creative things – art areas, but none he felt that really gave back to the city as much as additional commerce and residential, or additional parking would.
With a new season ahead of them, and looking at the mud pit that the Fulper Lot has become, he thought now would be time to make a recommendation of what they could do next. He asked the City Engineer to make a recommendation of what could be done in this area. He said Bramhall Engineering proposed a parking lot of 27 paving spaces, which includes two handicap spaces. There will be green space facing Liberty Avenue, with a brick walkway that goes from Liberty to the municipal parking lot, which has 56 parking spaces. He said people can participate in Third Thursday's, and there are additional areas to view the parades.
He showed Council an artist rendering of what the parking lot would look like from the street. He said he acquired a fence of some type to obscure the view of the parking lot from Liberty Avenue. He said some of the features that are not parking spaces can be used by the Arts Leagues, creative people, volunteer groups, Chalk Walks, things like that. He said maybe they can even take over the big brick wall and do some murals or something. He said it was suggested by somebody in his office that maybe the Chamber or Main Street could even have a drive-in movie theater at different times in the summer, where they can project on the wall. He showed variations of a board on board fence and a rod iron fence as an alternative.
He conveyed that the cost estimate is $122,000 for an asphalt parking lot, green space, pavers of the walkway, striping, fencing, concrete drive apron, and seeding and landscaping. This would require about two months of document preparation and bidding. Construction would take about two months; maybe a little less, so completion could roughly be about four months, which would take the City to about June.
When he had the property appraised in April of 2018, the appraisal cost for the entire lot was $133,000 at market. Since then, they had the property resurveyed and broken down where two lots were joined into one lot, and the walkway was divided into a second lot that will forever belong to the City. This was on the assumption that maybe somebody would come along and purchase the property to build on. However, he didn't think the City should wait any longer.
Council At Large Monica Stark thanked the Mayor for bringing this forward and agreed they needed to move forward to do something with this lot, and if the City can get something by summer it would be great. She said for the last few years this lot has been just a field in the middle of town and it's been used for parking, and she believes putting in a parking lot would help the west end of town grow and bring more business to the businesses in the area by making it accessible to those current businesses.
Council Member Frank Loucka said it was a great concept, and the green space is needed downtown. The fact there is no ingress or egress onto Liberty minimizes traffic congestion, where Grand Street is a little less congested. He agreed with Stark and totally agreed with this project and liked the looks of the wood fence.
Council Member Barb Brady asked if the parking on Grand Street would remain. Mayor Forthofer said yes. She said the 27 parking spaces does maximize the space, and for Third Thursday they could probably get three rows parked in this lot.
Chris Howard, City Engineer, said there is a minimum width requirement of 24', so they have to stay within code. He said they could take another two spaces away if Council desired more green space. Brady said no, as she thinks they need the parking.
Council Member Brian Holmes said there could be other ways to pay for this such as the storm water fund (pervious pavers). He said they could create a water shed or storm water features around the green space.
Gwen Fisher, Certified Municipal Clerk, suggested that the mayor speak with Lake Erie Shores and Islands to see if this is a project they would be interested in funding by incorporating their signage at the parking lot. Mayor Forthofer said he would talk with Larry Fletcher about this.
Mayor Forthofer said this cost estimate didn't include any lighting, Howard said that pavers are more expensive, and if they get into bio-swales or rain guards they will take away from the green space.
Amy Hendricks, Finance Director, said they have an Energizing Community Grant that the City can apply for through NOPEC this year that is a little over $13,000 that might be able to go toward some lighting.
Taft asked in the short-term if it would be cheaper to gravel the lot. Tony Valerius, Service Director, said city codes don't allow this. He said public commercial parking must be hard-surface. Taft thought it was a lot of money to spend if they had to tear it up again.
Chairman Steve Holovacs said as an example they could look at the north end of LCCC, where they installed a concrete parking lot. The lights on the lot are set up where they can use one half of the light stand and poles that light it up like an airport because the concrete is reflective. He said as a safety aspect, concrete is the most luminous surface you can use. He thought it was a good idea to make the Fulper Lot a parking lot. He said the entire lot was full during the Ice Affair and the parking lot needs cleaned up because it's muddy.
Stark moved, and Loucka seconded, to authorize the administration to go out to bid for the parking lot project located at the Fulper Lot. Roll Call Vote 6 YEAS. MOTION CARRIED.