City to Launch Parking Garage Study

City to Launch Parking Garage Study

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A parking garage may be a possibility in Ocean City to provide more spaces for visitors.

By DONALD WITTKOWSKI and MADDY VITALE

City Councilman and local businessman Jody Levchuk is convinced Ocean City needs a lot more parking – perhaps hundreds of more spaces.

However, Levchuk isn’t sure whether the city should build a new parking garage or create more parking in some other way.

He calls that “the million-dollar question.”

“The bottom line is, the question that is first and foremost is whether a parking garage is needed,” said Levchuk, who is the chairman of the Council’s newly formed parking and transportation committee.

Taking a step toward answering that question, City Council is expected to hire a consultant at its meeting Thursday to conduct a study of Ocean City’s parking needs, including the possibility of building a new parking garage somewhere in town.

Levchuk has his own ideas of where it should be built, but stressed that no decision has been made and that the city will be guided by the study.

“It starts with the study. It’s the million-dollar question. I think we need it. Hopefully, a study comes back saying I was right,” Levchuk noted in an interview.

He supports the idea of possibly constructing a parking garage near City Hall. He mentioned an existing parking lot directly behind City Hall as well as the city’s police station across the street as a possible location for the garage.

City Councilman Jody Levchuk, center, chairs the parking and transportation committee.

Levchuk has joined with other city officials in wanting to build a new police station to replace the antiquated public safety building at Eighth Street and Central Avenue. If a new police station is built at or near the same downtown site, property across the street might provide the location for a parking garage, he believes.

“We need hundreds of parking spots downtown,” he said.

He noted that others in town have voiced interest in having a parking garage closer to the Boardwalk.

At the same time that Levchuk prefers having a parking garage built in the downtown area, he stressed that he has not made up his mind.

“I have made zero decisions on anything in my mind,” he said. “I could be swayed with data and public opinion.”

Levchuk, who is co-owner of the Jilly’s family of shops on the Ocean City Boardwalk and downtown, added, “I’m not making it sound like it is a done deal.”

In January, Mayor Jay Gillian announced plans for Ocean City to have a consulting firm study potential locations for the construction of “one or more” parking garages on public property.

“The objective of the study will be to evaluate the possible layouts, the construction costs, the operating costs and potential revenue for one or more garages in several possible locations,” he told Council during the January meeting.

Levchuk explained that members of Council, the city administration and the public will all work together to determine what is the best route for creating more parking in town and where it should be located, with the help of a parking consultant.

“Council, the administration and the public will collectively decide does this make sense and do we move forward?” he said.

He wants to see a quicker turnover of the metered parking spaces in the downtown district to improve the flow of shoppers along Asbury Avenue. A strategically located parking garage would help to do that, he believes.

Even after the height of the summer tourism season, Levchuk believes a parking garage would be an asset. He said it could serve as a place for homeowners to shelter their cars when winter coastal storms strike Ocean City and unleash flooding.

Metered parking is throughout town, including at City Hall.