Newark, OH looks to support downtown businesses through better parking policies

Downtown Newark, Ohio. Photo from

When considering ways to boost businesses downtown, officials in Newark, Ohio, recognized better parking policies as one of the key requirements. A free technical assistance workshop from Smart Growth America helped them figure out how to make it happen.

Founded in 1802, Newark, Ohio is rich with history and character and is the epitome of small town America. The town continues to hold onto its roots in rural traditions and a strong work ethic, as has been a primarily industry- and business-focused area for some time.

Now local leaders are working on a number of policies to make the city even better, and Downtown Newark has become the focus of these improvement efforts. Downtown has remained the hub of commercial and public life in Newark, and there has been significant momentum among Newark residents to revitalize the area. The town ultimately aims to spur economic growth and create a thriving center for people and businesses.

Last September, the City of Newark applied for and received a free technical assistance workshop from Smart Growth America. The program – which provided support to 15 communities across the country – is made possible by a grant from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Sustainable Communities under its Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program.

Newark was interested in better parking policies downtown, and applied up for the Parking Audits workshop. As officials explained, Downtown Newark lacked proper enforcement of parking ordinances, and city employees were taking prime retail parking spots. Newark is working to support business development downtown, and making sure the area has proper and efficient parking opportunities is a key part of achieving that goal.

Smart Growth America staff visited Newark to conduct the Parking Audit workshop on April 25-26, 2012, which was led by Jim Charlier from Charlier Associates.

The evening of the 25th consisted of a public evening presentation on common challenges and strategies associated with downtown parking concerns. The presentation was followed by a moderated community conversation in order to identify and discuss specific parking issues and concerns in downtown Newark, as well as to come up with strategies to address those concerns.

A stakeholder meeting was held on the 26th to build upon the strategies developed from the moderated community discussion. Afterwards, a staff implementation meeting took place in order to identify the next steps needed to create an effective parking strategy.

The City of Newark has been very proactive in moving forward with the strategies identified in the workshop. The City and Jim Charlier created an Implementation Plan, which involves seven major steps, which will all be completed by Spring 2013.

Currently, the City is mapping all existing parking in downtown and summarizing the parking ordinances, which will be developed into a Parking Primer. After that is completed, city staff and stakeholders will meet to discuss re-establishment of parking enforcement. They hope to have the first three steps completed by fall 2012, in order to begin enforcement activities.

To learn more about the tool, to see the detailed Implementation Plan, to learn how the City of Newark is using the strategies identified in the technical assistance workshop, or to learn more about our technical assistance offerings, click on the links below.

Workshop materials:

Technical assistance