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New website, signage aim to make parking easier

Covington Motor Vehicle Parking Authority ramps up education as part of strategic approach to help drivers

COVINGTON, Ky. – The search for a parking spot in Covington should soon get easier, courtesy of a new website, new directional signs, and new branding for the Covington Motor Vehicle Parking Authority.

The signs – which are being mounted at key locations around Covington to direct drivers to public parking lots and garages – are colored green and black with a design that mimics the City’s overall branding.

“We wanted to have something that would stand out,” said Kyle Snyder, executive director of the Parking Authority and the City’s Infrastructure Development Specialist. “There has never been anything identifying the parking assets of the City or the Parking Authority. This will build a brand, and you will now know what to expect, how to pay, and not have any surprises.”

The new website, www.covpark.com, includes an array of information, including maps that show parking locations, monthly and hourly rates and arrangements, and what to do if you get a ticket.

The initiatives are the educational component of ongoing efforts to modernize and invest in the City’s parking infrastructure to benefit not only visitors but also businesses and residents. They’re also part of efforts to counter the myth that parking is severely lacking.

“The truth is that Covington is like any other urban environment,” Snyder said. “You may have to pay a little bit, and you may have to walk a little bit, but there’s plenty of parking.”

Employees of ABM Parking Services – the private contractor that manages day-to-day parking operations for the Parking Authority – have begun installing the signs. They include directional signs on streets as well as signs at parking lots and garages where the public can park.

The signs were designed by Covington-based Durham Studio, which also designed the City’s “Unapologetically Covington” economic development branding message.

The new authority

The branding was approved by the five-member citizens board that governs the Covington Motor Vehicle Parking Authority, which was created by City ordinance in 2018 to own and manage the City’s parking assets and fund and plan its improvements.

Appointed by the mayor and approved by the Board of Commissioners, the board meets monthly and directs the executive director to carry out the day-to-day parking tasks with ABM. The Parking Authority owns and operates several garages, many parking lots, and roughly 500 paid on-street parking spaces. It also administers residential parking areas.

 Toward that end, the Parking Authority hired Snyder for a newly created position in February 2022. In addition to serving as executive director of the Parking Authority, he also serves as Infrastructure Specialist in the City’s Economic Development Department.

The connection between the two areas – parking and the local economy – is so close that the City must take a strategic and thoughtful approach to every aspect of parking, including its cost, City Manager Ken Smith said.

“Businesses will be successful only if their employees and customers can find parking within a reasonable proximity and at a reasonable cost,” Smith said. “Free parking might sound like a boon for businesses that operate downtown, but the reality is that with limited spots available, many of those spots would be taken by people parking all day regardless of whether they were patronizing nearby restaurants, stores, and other commercial uses.”

Ongoing improvements

Snyder said the Parking Authority is overseeing a full complement of improvements, many of which are complete and some of which are still under way. They include:

  • Work at the RiverCenter Garage, including replacing all four elevators, repairing the fire suppression system, addressing drainage issues, painting, and improvements related to plumbing, electrical, and HVAC.
  • Work at the Mid-Town Garage, including replacing the elevator mechanicals, repairing the roof, installing a new fire panel, and erected the 3D public art called Clive the Alien.
  • Re-striping of parking spaces in lots and on streets around the city.
  • Meter location changes, with some removed and some added.
  • Repaving of the south half of the Saratoga Lot.
  • Use of a license plate reader car to help with enforcement.

Snyder said the Parking Authority is also working toward two other major improvements:

  • The installation of so-called “smart meters” – which accept credit cards, have a digital screen, and operate on solar power – later this year. The Parking Authority has similar technology at kiosks at some of its lots.
  • ´╗┐The expansion of EV chargers. The Parking Authority won a $500,000 grant from the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Conference of Governments to install Level 2 and 3 chargers at four locations in Covington.

“The mission of providing affordable, accessible parking spaces is ongoing,” Snyder said. “We try to be innovative, especially given the geographic constraints of our 200-plus-year-old city, the differing priorities of mixed-use areas where residential and commercial are in close proximity, and the ever-growing popularity of our downtown.”

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