There's Plenty of Parking in Downtown Ashland

By Sandra Tunnell

May 8, 2018

Hello, friends of downtown Ashland.

Isn’t it exciting to be back together again in the land of print(ish) communication? There is so much to talk about in downtown, so let’s get back to it, and take this opportunity to talk about the P word … parking.

So there are a couple of things we need to discuss, regarding this third rail of downtown. First of all, “there is nowhere to park downtown”?

This is a myth. A fallacy. An illusion. We have LOTS of parking downtown.

Not only is there parking on both sides of Main Street and most of the cross streets, but there are several parking lots all over downtown, just off of Main, with hundreds of spots in them.

In fact, Lot B, the biggest parking lot downtown, has room for 200 cars. (Do you know Lot B? Off of Claremont, south of the Town Creek, home of the Wednesday Farmers Market? 200 slots, baby, just waiting for you and your vehicle. From there, it will take you all of about 60 seconds to get from your car to Main Street, give or take a passing motorist or two. I know; I do this. All. The. Time. In heels.) 

The problem is that our beautiful buildings are hiding the parking lots, and there is a little incline, so you don’t realize how close you are to downtown until poof! You’re there!

You walk farther at Walmart from their parking lot to get your milk in the back of the store than from Lot B to the other corner of downtown, but you don’t realize it.

There are several lots on the north side of Main Street on 2nd Street; those, too, are just a teensy weensy way from Main Street.

What we don't have downtown are people who are used to having to walk far to park. I see you all in downtown Cleveland, or at Easton, or at IKEA, hoofing it from the parking lot to a game, or to shops, or to an event, and I don’t hear you complaining. You will walk a mile to watch OSU football (because I know none of you is parked next to the Horseshoe), so walking 10 feet to support our local businesses and develop the economy? That’s easy!

One of the key pieces of the Ashland Main Street parking plan is to better identify those parking lots and create sweet signage to get you from said lots to your favorite downtown businesses, and to make it easier to get from said lots to Main Street. You know, like developing the alley next to Uniontown Brewing so that you can easily get from our 200 spot Lot B to Main Street and beyond.

Number Two. Parking on Main Street.

As you all have read, there is a two hour parking limit on Main Street. Not all of downtown, mind you; just on Main and South and 2nd and the cross streets. Here’s the idea -- the streets are for people popping into a store for lunch, or to visit their lawyer. It is not for the marathon shopping spree that I am promoting, or for the people who work downtown, or for those with five meetings all day. That’s what the lots are for.

Short-term = street. Long-term = lots. (Whoa - I didn’t even see the alliteration there. Nice.)

I get it; sometimes a meeting runs late, or you ended up chitchatting for a little while longer than you meant to. I understand. It happens. But if you are showing up at 8 a.m. and not moving your car until 5? People. Not groovy.

That actually doesn’t stimulate the economy. Parking in front of your business all day means one less spot available for that person who wants to drop some quick cash on a local merchant, the local merchant who has hired a local employee and is paying local taxes and is shopping locally for her store.

Abusing our parking by taking up valuable downtown real estate with your big ol’ car is not driving our economy; it’s stalling it.

Also, the 2 hours is during the day -- at night, you are welcome to support our peeps as long as you’d like. And not just the food and beverage peeps -- as the days warm up (it will happen, I promise), our downtown retailers are staying open later to give you more opportunities to shop. Already, our friends (and members!) at Ashland Books are open until 8 on Fridays at 8 p.m.

Open; Yippee!

If you would like to give this walking-around-after-parking- in-a- lot-staying- downtown- after-hours thing a try, may I suggest participating in our See Upstairs Shop Downtown Shop Hop and Hidden Spaces Tour, on May 11 and 12?

You can park, walk, shop, walk, visit, walk, explore, and see what is happening downtown (and what is happening is a LOT). The Shop Hop participating merchants will be open late Friday and Saturday -- come see what our downtown has for you to buy (so much.)

At the same time, our Hidden Spaces Tour will give you the opportunity to see several downtown buildings that haven’t been open to the public for years. Tickets for the tour are $10 per person and are available at our office (211 Claremont) and on the days of the tour.

While this is our first big downtown event of the year, you don’t have to wait to practice what we’re preaching; come downtown today and park in a lot and time yourself - I guarantee you will make it across the downtown faster than you make it across a big box store.

Unless you stop and shop. Do that, too.

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