If I am understanding this correctly, Chagrin Falls Village Council has voted down the idea of reinstalling parking meters in the downtown shopping district thus ending the latest round of the popular parlor game called “What should we do about parking?”

So, now what happens? Nothing, apparently, unless the Fiat fueled parking enforcement squad can come up with magic to catch and penalize those who view downtown Chagrin Falls as one big all-day parking lot.

To review, it has been determined the cause of the parking problem in Chagrin Falls is business owners and employees who, wishing to park close to their work, take the prime on-street spots better used by shoppers, clients and restaurant patrons.

The story goes that these money spending visitors – unable to find convenient parking in the village – will keep on driving until they find another place that does.

The dirty little secret is this: on-street parking is public parking and open to anyone. Find a spot first and it is yours. Well, not finders keepers yours forever, but at least for three hours which is the posted limit for parking in most parts of Chagrin Falls.

Feeding the meter is a no-no too, but everyone does it. Unless you use the parking app at one of the side street meters, in which case you will be denied the chance to buy more time.

The Fiat enforcers still check tire stems to catch those who have over stayed their time. This has thrown down the gauntlet for some who respond by moving their cars a few inches one way or the other so the stem ends up in a different position. This strategy intends to fool the enforcement officer into believing car and driver left the spot and just happened to come back later to find the exact space available.

Then there are the “just don’t care crowd,” folks who don’t care how many tickets they get because at $20 a piece, they can rationalize the expense of doing business in Chagrin Falls and it’s cheaper than what parking garages charge if they worked in a different city.

The mayor and members of the village parking commission and police department have worked endlessly trying to guide these folks away from the prime parking downtown.

The mayor worked diligently to identify and obtain leases for these more out-of-the-way spaces in private lots from East Orange and River Street all the way to Bell and Philomethian Streets.

That was followed by a messaging campaign urging long-term parkers to use the more remote spots. The mayor has conceded the plan is not working as well as hoped.

Nothing will work to address the Chagrin Falls parking conundrum until village leaders take another look at building a parking deck.

Three years ago the parking commission went on record saying a parking structure had not been rejected, just put on the back burner while other strategies were tried. Let’s applaud them for trying, but the strategies were unsuccessful, and the problem remains.

It is not clear if our sturdy band of parking commissioners will try again. If they do, may we suggest they drop the notion human behavior can be changed through incentives, policies and leasing out-of-the-way parking spaces. Instead:

Let’s take a long and hard look at the possibility of building a parking garage.

Let’s seed the parking commission with members who believe a parking garage could be the solution.

Let’s find out once and for all if there is a viable place to plant a parking garage.

Let’s learn the cost of such a project and what grants and low interest loans are out there.

Let’s investigate the logistics and determine if building a parking garage – in one or the other of the village parking lots – would be disruptive to business as some predict.

It’s time. It is way past time to try something different.

A veteran reporter and columnist, Barbara Christian has been covering Chagrin Falls since 1967 and is currently responsible for Chagrin Falls village events, government and school board news along with her weekly column "Window on Main Street."

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