Council debates parking situation

Parking isn’t just a problem for University students.

Despite disagreements concerning the creation of a new parking lot across the street from the Wood County District Public Library on North Main Street, library officials are working with an engineering firm to move forward with plans.

When the library was renovated in 2003, the building’s architect – Poggemeyer Design Group – estimated the library would need between 100 and 150 new parking spots.

Three years later, there aren’t any new spots.

The library currently has 44 spaces available to visitors and nine spots reserved for city employees at the city municipal building next door.

Elaine Paulette, director of the Wood County library, said this is nowhere near enough to accommodate patrons.

Each week, 5,000 people visit the library, roughly 40 children attend story times, and meeting and tech rooms fill up, she said.

“We get complaints about parking every day,” Paulette said.

But not everyone agrees the new lot is necessary.

John K. Hartman, a Bowling Green resident for 32 years, said he’s never had trouble finding a parking spot near the library.

“Most people will tell you they’ve had the same experience,” he said. “I think it’s an issue that people have somehow gotten into their heads.”

Council president Megan Newlove led a special meeting last night to consider the city’s role in the situation after Hartman’s suggestion at the Aug. 21 meeting that the Council hire an outside attorney to prevent the lot from being paved.

City attorney Michael Marsh said the city will need to give the library a zoning certificate and specify the width of parking spots, lighting and the entrance location.

Some locals, including 4th ward council member Mike Frost, were upset to see a historic home on the corner of North Church and West Court streets demolished last summer to make room for the new parking lot.

Robert Maurer, a Bowling Green real estate developer who owned the house, had signed an agreement with the library to consider purchasing the property after he learned of the facility’s parking problem.

Robert McOmber, an at-large member of the Council, said he believes locals are frustrated because the library has been able to play by different rules than the rest of the community.

But Earlene Kilpatrick, director of Main Street Bowling Green which works with the local government, shop owners and the media to improve the city’s business district, said some residents misunderstand the situation.

“I think many people are forgetting that this is private property to begin with,” she said.

Additional parking is absolutely necessary because the library isn’t just used by Bowling Green residents, but by those in surrounding communities like Weston that don’t have their own libraries, Kilpatrick said.

John Fawcett, the city municipal administrator, said if the library follows Bowling Green’s city template, the new lot would provide 36 additional parking spots.

Newlove said the council has no plans to make changes or take action immediately but that it will allow them to answer residents’ questions and address the issue in the future.