By BECKY THOMAS
Adequate parking is often an issue in college towns. Recently, local leaders began working on addressing current and future parking issues in Cheney.
The city’s Community Development Department is seeking help from the EPA to complete a parking audit.
“Basically looking at our existing parking citywide,” city planner Brett Lucas said. “Hopefully we’ll see where our strengths are parking-wise in the city, and where our deficiencies might be.”
The most obvious parking issue in Cheney is surrounding Eastern Washington University, where student vehicles often spill over into residential areas and park on neighborhood streets.
Both the city’s and EWU’s most recent parking studies are about 10 years old, and the two organization’s leaders have been discussing the need for a fresh look for the past couple of years.
“It’s time. We’ve been working off the old one for a long time,” said Shawn King, associate vice president of facilities and planning at EWU.
The university recently hired a consultant to complete parking and traffic studies as part of a comprehensive campus master planning process. King said the studies would analyze how university parking lots get used, how student parking is affecting the city and what parking needs exist for the future.
One of EWU’s biggest challenges is making parking in university lots easy and convenient, King said.
“I think overall it’s the intention of the university to have enough parking for students and staff without going into the residential streets,” he said. The problem is filling parking needs where they exist, namely where the city and university meet along Fifth, Sixth and Seventh streets.
“We don’t have space there,” he said.
The city has also been seeking a new parking study for some time. Lucas said that the timing of the grant application—as the city is considering new infill and multi-use development zones—was coincidental.
“We’ve always known that we need to look at parking on a larger scale,” he said. “We just want to get some help so we can do that.”
The EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program would provide experts to answer technical questions and facilitate discussion about parking in the community. It would include a one- to two-day presentation and meetings with stakeholders and the public to create strategies to better handle parking issues.
Becky Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.