PENINSULA, Ohio — Enjoying some of the sights and sounds of nature in one part of Northeast Ohio might now cost a little more.
Village leaders in Peninsula, which sits right next to Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail, announced parking will no longer be free in several prominent spots beginning Aug. 2.
“We have an influx of tourists in our neighborhood and we’re looking for a way without raising our taxes to supplement our costs,” Mayor Dan Schneider said. “Any little contribution is going to help keep this town safe and clean and a place people want to continue to visit.”
An estimated 2.7 million people visited Cuyahoga Valley National Park in 2020, making it one of the most-visited national parks in the United States. That amounts to more than 7,000 people passing through Peninsula a day, a village with a population of only about 600 people.
Schneider explained to News 5 up to about 300 parking spots will switch to paid parking, many of which are located along State Route 303 and Akron Peninsula Road. Schneider hopes the revenue will help pay for the police department, roads, and overall finances.
“We have probably the lowest-paid police and road department in Ohio,” he added. “Our limited income doesn't allow us to retain good officers and employees. Being that the park owns over 50% of the property in the village, that limits the amount of space for any types of income or businesses and even influxes of new homes.”
Another reason behind the decision was to allow those spots to go toward patrons at businesses, as opposed to those utilizing nearby nature trails for hours on end.
“I think that will not only help the businesses but also turnover traffic on our main streets,” Schneider said.
Nancy Gecking owns Pedego Electric Bikes along Main Street in Peninsula.
“I’m really worried it's going to hurt business,” she said.
In addition to forcing her employees to pay for parking, Gecking also worries it could impact the limited street spots outside her business.
“Parking is at a premium right now,” she said. "There isn’t very much and if people have to pay to park here, I feel people will go someplace else.”
Once paid parking begins on Monday, drivers will be charged $2/hour through the website paybyphone.com. The service will be enforced 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you don’t pay, a citation will run a driver $25 for the first 10 days. After that, the fine will increase to $35. After 30 days, that unpaid ticket will go up to $100.