Medina Village Board considers how to deal with parking crunch with cruise-in

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 April 2017 at 10:18 pm

Board considers whether to move cruise-in to another site

File photos: David Green, coordinator of the Canal Cruise-In, is pictured in June 2015. He is shown greeting Vern and Brenda Wetherbee of Holley with their two-tone green 1957 Chevy.

MEDINA – It’s a problem many villages would like to have: a parking crunch on a Friday night.

Medina’s downtown revitalization, with several new businesses opening in recent years, has created a demand for parking on Main Street and at the Canal Basin lot.

The popular new Celtic pub, Fitzgibbons Public House, has filled even more parking spaces in the evenings, especially on busy Friday nights. Fitzgibbons opened on Jan. 6.

The parking spaces, already a hot commodity, will become even more scarce on Friday evenings in June, when the Canal Cruise-In returns. The weekly event started 19 years ago with five cars near Hartway Motors. After the first year, it shifted to the Canal Basin. It draws about 100 classic cars over 10 weeks until about mid-August.

“The Canal Basin is ideal because there is shade and parking,” Green told the Village Board today during a special meeting. “We love it down there. We don’t want to move somewhere else.”

The board has heard from some business owners that the cruise-in should be relocated elsewhere in Medina, perhaps the bigger southeast municipal lot behind the Main Street buildings, between East Center Street and the railroad tracks.

Other businesses and community members don’t want to push a popular attraction from an ideal location by the canal.

The cruise-in has its biggest day on a Wednesday in August when Main Street is blocked off and Elvis impersonator Terry Buchwald entertains. That cruise-in draws about 300 classic cars to Medina. This photo shows Buchwald in September 2015. That event was pushed from August back after Buchwald’s wife had a baby.

Nearly two decades ago, Main Street wasn’t very busy after 5 p.m. on a Friday. Now there are several restaurants open, including the new pub.

“There is a mixed bag of feedback,” Cindy Robinson, president of the Medina Business Association, said about the cruise-in.

The classic cars bring in visitors to the community who give a boost to many local businesses. But she acknowledged the block by the Canal Basin has attracted more businesses and there is a parking crunch at the Basin.

Tim Elliott, a village trustee, also is co-owner of Brushstrokes Studio. He said Friday evenings could be busier for the studio with classes and events if there were more parking spaces.

He said the cruise-in is a positive for the community, but he would like to see it relocated.

“The car show is technically mobile – you guys can move,” Elliott said.

The business owners however don’t have an option to create more spaces. There is a limited number of parking spots, Elliott said.

“We have to find a parking solution,” Elliott said.

Photo by Tom Rivers: Mayor Mike Sidari, center, leads a discussion this evening about downtown parking and the Canal Cruise-In. Village trustees include, from left: Marguerite Sherman, Tim Elliott, (Todd Bensley barely visible in photo), and Owen Toale.

Owen Toale, a village trustee, said the cruise-in has built up a solid reputation through nearly two decades of work. He likes the location by the canal, a welcome sight to boaters who see a lively village.

He believes the cruise-in provides so much positive feeling for visitors that they make many return trips to Medina.

“We’re bringing people into town, and we’re showing them Medina,” Toale said. “Boats are coming in.”

The cruise-in provides an important quality of life for residents and the car owners.

“They sit in their chairs and on the grass, and they visit,” Toale said. “You don’t see that anymore.”

Business owners and residents suggested that temporary event signs be put up for the cruise-in, directing people to other municipal lots in public parking close to the downtown. Business owners and their employees who park on Main Street and at the Basin were also encouraged to move their vehicles at about 4 p.m. on Fridays to ease some demand.

The cruise-ins run from about 5 to 8 p.m. The events include a DJ, Hank Nevins, and a 50/50 raffle with proceeds given to the United Way.

“It’s not a bad thing having so many people coming into our community,” said Trustee Marguerite Sherman.

Mayor Mike Sidari asked for a vote today about the issue, but pushed it back to next week after Trustee Todd Bensley asked for more time to talk with businesses on the east side of the block to see if they would be willing to make some of their spaces available on Fridays when they close after 5 p.m. Bensley also wanted to check on the temporary signage for events.

He worries that not allowing the cruise-ins would create a lot of ill will among the car owners and their supporters.

“We want them as ambassadors for the village,” Bensley said.

Sidari said his biggest concern would be having a quiet downtown on a Friday evening.

“Right now we have a parking situation,” Sidari said. “When you have no cars on Main Street then you have a parking problem.”

The board will meet on Monday at 7 p.m. at the Village Office to make a decision on the cruise-in location for this year.

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