There is parking downtown.
It is not a myth. City planners have found it, surveyed it and are now marking it, and the Sun Herald is going to show you how to find it, too.
For one thing, new signs are going up that will help you in your quest for parking a reasonable distance from the entertainment, eating and shopping along Washington Avenue and Government Street.
Shoppers are spoiled. They would like to pull right up to their specialty shop or within sight of it and are willing to drive round and round, searching for that perfect spot.
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But with a little forethought, they could go straight to a public parking lot just a block or two off the main drag, get a spot quickly and take a leisurely 2- to 5-minute walk to the shopping and restaurant district.
Downtown is designed for walking, said Wade Morgan, the city planner who did the parking survey. He came to Ocean Springs from the Germantown suburb of Memphis, Tennessee.
I’ve never had a problem parking, but I know where to go.
Wade Morgan, city planner
He suggests shoppers pull into one of the small lots the city is now pointing to with signs, and “meander, see everything. It’s a pleasant walk.”
Phase 1 is putting up three main signs on Washington Avenue to direct drivers to the general areas of public parking.
Square white signs that say “Free Public Parking” and have a big “P” and an arrow are going up right away.
The signs will send drivers off Washington Avenue to public parking near City Hall that includes spaces behind the First Baptist Church; spaces at and behind City Hall; those across the street from the library; and around the Community Center.
They will point to the Keys lot on Cash Alley, one block off Government Street and just a 2-minute walk to Washington Avenue shops. It holds 21 vehicles.
They also will point out a little-known, unnamed lot on DeSoto Street behind Off the Hook and next to Buzzy’s, which has 24 spaces.
And the signs will help get motorists unfamiliar with the city to the Fallo-Pleasant lot on Government Street west of the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center, which holds a whopping 62 cars.
Public parking at the Chamber of Commerce and Depot — at the entrance to downtown — and streets nearby add 42 spaces.
Phase 2 will be to post signs that better mark the path to each lot individually.
“I’ve never had a problem parking,” Morgan said, “but I know where to go.”
Copies of a map to these lots will be available at the Chamber of Commerce welcome office in the Depot.
▪ There are 549 parking spaces downtown, including private lots that can be used after daytime business hours.
▪ In the seven public lots, there are a total of 210 spaces, and there are 264 on-street parking spaces.
▪ Most of the public parking needs prominent signs to alert drivers.
▪ Some streets allow on-street parking, but the spaces are not striped or marked.