Council Adds Parking Spots in 2017 Budget


Photo by Byran Rubin, Photo editor

City Council members approve the 2017 budget Monday. Budget plans include the addition of six parking spaces on East College Street across the street from India Garden, Slow Train and Infinite Monkey.

Louis Krauss, News Editor

City Council passed its 2017 budget at its meeting Monday evening, outlining which public works projects the city hopes to undertake. Monday’s meeting was a quick formality to pass the final budget, but the council and various municipal city workers spent around 10 hours over two meetings last week to create a final draft.

In recent years, the priciest and most involved projects have been rebuilding roads. This budget cycle, the council targeted East College Street, which has been littered with cracks and potholes from the Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center’s ongoing construction. The project will cost the city $508,450, nearly half of which comes from a federal grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission.

According to Oberlin Public Works Director Jeff Baumann, the city will also be building six parallel parking spots into the curb in front of Shansi House along the north curb of East College Street between Willard Court and Pleasant Street. Baumann said the College is helping plan the parking area. (pdf courtesy of Jeff Baumann)

Since construction began on the new hotel, storeowners have raised concerns that reduced parking space hurts local businesses trying to attract customers. India Garden employee Nitin Bhutani said he liked the sound of increased parking spaces, as it would make access to the restaurant easier.

“That would be really helpful to the businesses on this side of town because a lot of customers say it’s hard to find parking,” Bhutani said. “Sometimes they say they have to walk half a mile, and with winter coming. That’s really something we’d like to fix. We would really benefit from that.”

Baumann said that East College Street construction would begin around August, when the Hotel’s construction will likely be completed.

Other major projects in the budget include finishing repaving Morgan Street from Cedar Street to Colony Drive, which will cost $632,578. The council was unable to finish this project in 2016 due to insufficient funds. Aside from the street projects, most other items on the budget are concerned with replacing and updating aging resources such as sewer systems, electrical equipment and sidewalks. Funding for these projects and replacements comes from a combination of the city’s 2.5-percent income tax and federal grants.

Although last week’s budget discussions lasted more than five hours each, Finance Director and former Interim City Manager Sal Talarico said City Council is usually in agreement on the annual budget.

“Council always asks good questions about why certain projects are needed, but they don’t even need to ask because our public works and electric directors do such a good job explaining the importance of their projects,” Talarico said.

Monday marked the first day on the job for new City Manager Rob Hillard, with Talarico returning to the finance director spot he has held since 2000.

“I’m happy to serve Oberlin,” Talarico said. “Whether it’s in the city manager spot or in the financial manager office, I’m happy to serve.”