Parking plan for Main Street goes back to the drawing board

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK | News-Telegram Managing Editor

July 6, 2007 - The planned changes for parking on Main Street west of the downtown square have gone back to the drawing board.

Sulphur Springs City Council members, meeting in regular session Tuesday, decided to send the issue back to the Dowtown Revitalization Board for more study after a test run showed "head-in" parking would leave too little room for traffic on the street.

In June, the council approved the downtown board's recommendation that the best bet for the street is to make it one-way off of the square to Davis Street and change from parallel parking spaces to angled parking. Both ideas quickly gained the support of the Downtown Business Alliance, the coalition of merchants in the central business district seeking to improve the area.

But on June 27, city officials closed off the one-block section of Main Street and chalked off  the parking stripes to give a true test of the parking plan's viability. The verdict: Not enough room left.

Two other plans were considered Tuesday night. One is the "California" plan, which would leave the street two-way but limit head-in parking spaces to one row on part of the south side of the street, and another row on the north side on the other end of the street. The problem is that it would only allow for 19 parking spaces. The current parallel parking scheme holds 30 spaces, and the other plans provide for at least 26 spaces.

That includes a hybrid plan, which would have head-in parking the length of the block on one side, and parallel parking on the other.

Ultimately, the council voted to send the issue back to the revitalization board for further consideration.

In other business Tuesday, the council approved the sale of bonds that will be used for various projects. The bonds would cover an estimated $6.975 million in capital improvement projects — $3.5 million for street work, $2.5 million for water and sewer, and $975,000 for equipment.

J.P. Morgan Securities offered the best bid with a true interest rate of 4.126 percent over 20 years. The net cost, i.e., interest and other charges, over the life of the bonds should amount to $2.316 million, about $75,000 less than was originally anticipated.

Dan Almon with Southwest Securities, which assisted the city in the process, also reported that Sulphur Springs has a good financial reputation. Moody's gave the city an A-3 rating, which is "very complimentary of the city," Almon said. Sulphur Springs has a reputation for carrying modest debt burdens with fast payouts, he added.

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