Project will provide 60 more parking spaces at site

by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: KATE STRINGER - The city of Hillsboro recently purchased five parcels of land on Ninth Avenue near Maple Street, which it plans to transform into a parking lot that could accommodate up to 60 cars.  Visitors to the popular Shute Park Aquatic & Recreation Center and the Shute Park Branch Library have become accustomed to circling the block in search of an open parking space. But drivers coming to the facilities may soon literally get a “brake.”

On July 1, the Hillsboro City Council approved the purchase of a 1.7-acre residential parcel, and plans to use the land to expand parking there.

The property, which the city has agreed to purchase for $192,000, represents the last of five adjoining properties the city has acquired or is in the process of acquiring in recent months to make way for a parking area on Ninth Avenue. The land is essentially right across the street from the SHARC complex and the library.

When built, the new lot is expected to provide parking for 60 cars, and parking will be free.

In a forward-looking move, the city purchased the properties from the owners one by one, paying a total $816,000 for the combined five properties. All the parcels of land were purchased in 2014.

A survey conducted by the Hillsboro Parks & Recreation Department last fall found that the most frequently received comment from citizens was a need for additional parking near SHARC, said Mary Loftin, the department’s community resources manager.

Currently, several houses built in the 1940s and 1950s are on the parcels. Because the houses are in dilapidated condition, the city is allowing the Hillsboro Fire Department to conduct “burn-to-learn” training operations with them, Loftin said.

Loftin added that she isn’t yet sure when the property will be available for parking. Because the land is not zoned as a parking area, city officials will need to go through a land use and zoning change process, and they are just beginning the application process.

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