More visitor parking planned for City Hall

Residents should have an easier time finding a place to park at Kent City Hall later this year.

City Public Works staff developed a proposal to change the city’s parking ordinance to create more spots for visitors to City Hall, the Centennial Center and the Kent Police Station. The lots are often full.

“Through observation and comment we needed to address parking at city facilities,” said Alex Ackley, city facilities superintendent, at a March 7 meeting of the council’s Operations Committee. “We are trying to provide more adequate parking for residents who come here to do city business and employees who park on the campus.”

The committee voted to approve changes for better signage, parking stickers for city employees and two-hour visitor parking only in the lot between City Hall and the Centennial Center. The proposal goes to the full council on Tuesday, March 21.

“We will change the City Hall parking lot between City Hall and the Centennial building to make it visitor parking,” Ackley said. “We have staff and outside agencies parking there. As downtown has grown and business has grown, which is a good thing, they (downtown visitors) look to park here. I have witnessed people parking all day at City Hall and in the parking garage. And this gives better guidance to city employees about where to park.”

Council President Bill Boyce asked Ackley about signs to be posted in the City Hall lot and the parking garage.

“We will do a better job of signage,” Ackley said. “It will be two-hour visitor parking in the City Hall lot. People who work here and need to use the lot, they will be able to get in and out, and we will have employee parking stickers for their cars. There will be better signage for the garage for employees and residents.”

City employees seemed to favor a more structured parking code, according to Ackley and Derek Matheson, city chief administrative officer.

“I didn’t hear any negative comments,” Matheson said. “I received a couple of positive comments about changes in parking.”

Councilwoman Dana Ralph said she looks forward to the proposed changes.

“As downtown grows, it’s important to make it uncomplicated for people coming to City Hall to do business and give them a place to park,” Ralph said.

Kent Police also plan to hire a parking enforcement officer this spring to help ticket drivers who violate parking restrictions.