Tomball City Council addresses downtown parking problems

The city of Tomball is looking at new parking strategies after removing spaces on Main Street.

The city of Tomball is looking at new parking strategies after removing spaces on Main Street.

Shoppers in Old Town Tomball may soon have an easier time finding parking thanks to an agreement between business owners and Tomball City Council.

Responding to concerns from a number of businesses in the 400 block of Main Street in downtown Tomball, City Council members agreed during a meeting Oct. 17 to install temporary directional signs for parking and make existing side-street parallel parking more visible for visitors.

As part of a Texas Department of Transportation project, 76 parallel parking spaces were removed along Main Street in September to create a center-turn lane. Business owners on the street said the loss of on-street parking directly in front of their shops has led to a sharp dropoff in customer traffic.

“This is the place we want to be, [but] we are hurting right now,” said Mike Brockwell, owner of Otto’s Emporium.  “We need some solutions, and we need to be part of that solution. We’ve got the holidays coming, and we try to educate our customers—when they come in—on where they can park.”

Following discussion with Community Development Director Craig Meyers, the council agreed to replace the “No Parking” signs on Main Street with signs directing motorists toward parking lots, and to add temporary striping along North Oak and North Walnut streets to identify existing spaces.

“Doing some simple measurement out there, you could stripe the parallel spaces,” Meyers said. “You park more efficiently with stripes.”

In the long term, the council also discussed an option to add angled parking along Commerce Street, allowing for 97 parking spaces from Pine to Elm streets, as well as converting Oak and Walnut streets into one-way corridors to allow for more angled parking.

Due to unknown costs and funding sources, there is no immediate timeline for when angled parking could become a reality along these roads in Tomball.

“There’s more that goes into it than just striping,” he said. “You’re [also] looking at enhancing the streets by putting in curbs … and adding sidewalks. When you start putting those components in, those costs go up. It looks really simple, but it adds up.”

By Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.