Sewickley residents and council members engaged in a heated discussion last week over the possibility of building a parking garage in the heart of the business district.
The property where the former Ascot Motors stood on Walnut Street became available for purchase in January, and council in July ratified the transfer of $910,000 from borough funds to buy it.
Sewickley officials have said the property will be used for either a surface parking lot or a garage. Borough officials have said the town needs additional parking spaces and developers are having an increasingly difficult time providing the parking they are required to provide under current zoning and planning laws.
At their Sept. 16 meeting, however, council members stressed that the decision to build a parking garage there has not yet been made.
Joan Miles, a Sewickley resident and former planning commission member, questioned the necessity of placing a garage there and stressed the need for community involvement in the decision-making process regarding the garage.
She said she would like to see the establishment of a "parking task force," with representation from borough council, Sewickley Valley Chamber of Commerce and two residents of Sewickley.
Borough officials said the only actions that have taken place so far are the purchase of the property and steps to consolidate it with an existing lot on Green Street. The Green Street lot is in the Village Overlay zoning district, and the former Ascot property is in a C-1 zoning district. One of the parcels must be rezoned because both must be the same type of zoning in order for anything to be built there.
In the meantime, officials said that they will conduct studies to address current and future needs.
"The availability of this kind of property to address parking is a once-in-a-generation opportunity," council President Robert Hague said.
Upcoming public meetings are scheduled with the planning commission on Wednesday and with council Oct. 21.
"My object, for all of the years I've been here, is to do the best for this town," Mr. Hague said.
Shellie Petri Budzeak, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.