PF looks at plans for parking

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Post Falls is developing a parking plan for the city center as businesses become interested in moving there. An open house on the plan will be held on Thursday at City Hall from 6 to 7:30 p.m. There will be a short presentation at 6 p.m. Attendees' input will be sought and project organizers will be available to answer questions. Pictured is a parking spot on Fourth Avenue across from Post Falls City Hall last summer. (LOREN BENOIT/Press File)

POST FALLS — Post Falls is developing a city center parking plan and now is the time to offer your input.

The city will host a public open house to discuss parking Thursday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at City Hall.

A short presentation will be held shortly after 6, then planners will be available to answer questions and discuss ideas.

"The city center is developing and we want to make sure that we have adequate parking," Mayor Ron Jacobson said.

An obvious example of a parking challenge that already exists is in the area of Post Falls Brewing on First Avenue, he said.

More could arise when the Post Falls Landing site and more lots on Spokane Street are developed.

Allan Scharton, of Liberty Bankers Life Insurance Company, which owns the Landing site, said his company accepted an offer for 17 acres. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018 and the buyer will be revealed at that time, he said.

The city has contracted with Welch-Comer Engineers for $89,000 to develop the parking plan. The study area is between First and Fifth avenues from the river to east of Idaho Veneer.

City engineer Bill Melvin said city staff has met with Welch-Comer for a review of the area, but no specific concepts for improvements have been developed.

Thursday's open house will be the first of three. The plan must also be approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council before becoming part of the city's comprehensive plan.

"The goal is to try to get ahead of the curve and have a plan to transition to a more urban, dense area," Melvin said.

He said in addition to identifying whether a parking lot is needed in the city center, individual blocks with on-street parking will need to be identified.

Melvin said Frederick and William streets near City Hall are examples of what some other city center streets may look like with on-street parking, sidewalks and curbs.

"People only want to walk so far," Melvin said, referring to the need for multiple parking options.

Post Falls is pursuing an Idaho Community Development block grant to add additional parking.

The lack of parking has translated into vehicles damaging private property, ranging from sprinkler heads to mailboxes, city officials said.

The city center zoning code envisions public parking availability — either with on-street parking or public parking lots — so businesses may locate on smaller lots with fewer parking requirements than in other parts of the city.

Some strides are already being made to address parking as city center patrons will be able to use the lot next to Kootenai County's complex on Railroad Avenue after hours.

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