Former Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler is leading a small, informal working group of Catonsville residents and business owners to create a list of options to improve parking in the business corridor along Frederick Road.
Mohler hopes to have a “menu” of plans to improve parking in the area within 60 to 90 days, he said. When the group is finished its work, the options will be presented to the Baltimore County Revenue Authority, which manages public parking in the county.
“We’re not going to dictate any solutions,” Mohler said. “Our charge is to almost serve as a big white board and say, ‘Here’s some things you may want to have further discussion about.’ ”
The group is still in its earliest stages, Mohler said. He’s meeting with Teal Cary, executive director of the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce, on Friday to discuss who else should be included in the working group.
The former county executive and lifelong Catonsville resident said a cadre of county officials, including Councilman Tom Quirk and County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., asked him to work on the project.
“People know my soft spot,” Mohler said. “I’ve agreed to do this as a volunteer; this is a way to give back to the community.”
Cary said that from the perspective of the chamber and its members, part of making businesses successful in Catonsville is “making sure customers have a place to park.”
“People have never felt there is adequate parking in Catonsville,” she said. “That’s the general consensus, that there’s a need for more public parking.”
The county revenue authority currently manages 97 parking meters in the business district in Catonsville, according to Ken Mills, the authority’s director.
Quirk and Mohler both pointed to recent openings along Frederick Road, such as the restaurant State Fare and the planned gourmet grocery 818 Market, as reasons for having the discussion about parking now.
Quirk said State Fare, which opened at 748 Frederick Road, made parking “less flexible,” because many of the parking spaces near that restaurant are filled more often by customers now.
“I think that put some pressure on things,” Quirk said.
And Mohler said he “truly can’t remember” any store or restaurant opening in Catonsville that’s being met with as much anticipation as 818 Market. The owners of the market are hosting a groundbreaking ceremony on Feb. 12 and expect to open in October.
Mohler, Mills and Cary all declined to speculate on what parking solutions could look like, though the former county executive did say “nothing is off the table” when asked about constructing a parking garage. Mills said the solution could involve businesses and other institutions, such as the handful of churches along Frederick Road, crafting agreements to shift employee parking away from the core commercial blocks on Frederick Road and open more spots to consumers.
Olszewski said in an emailed statement that he was aware of the parking concerns and supportive of efforts to “pull together stakeholders and develop possible solutions.”
Public involvement will be a part of the process, Mohler said, but he was not yet sure what that would include.
“But we certainly welcome feedback and [want to] make this a true community endeavor,” Mohler said.