Ease of Access: Downtown shuttle system transports along Park Street
By Anna Skinner
A collaborative effort between the Downtown Westfield Association, the City of Westfield and Dan Moyer of Moyer Fine Jewelers has created a product to be used by people visiting Westfield’s Park Street.
The Park Street Shuttle launched July 13 and can transport five people in addition to a driver from a parking lot on the west side of Park Street, previously occupied by Park Street Pub, 515 Park St. Moyer purchased the nearly 2-acre property and allows the city to lease the area for $1 a year while he formulates a development plan. There are approximately 100 parking spots on the property.
The city graveled and striped the property, and the Dept. of Public Works is in the process of installing two wheelchair-accessible ramps to the parking lot. Moyer also is purchasing a second people-mover to be used for a shuttle. Each new shuttle costs approximately $16,000.
“It is something we’ve envisioned for many years to serve the downtown as a whole,” Mayor Andy Cook said. “As the Park Street restaurant district begins to take shape, it is happening quicker than what we thought. The physical plan for the plaza is just beginning to take shape, and we are very pleased to have this investment. Parking is a challenge, but the ambience of the place is important, too, without a great big parking garage or asphalt lot. We are using the resources we have, which is exactly the way we want to develop downtown Westfield. We don’t want to tear everything down and rebuild into a plastic environment. We want to use what’s here.”
Moyer said a lot of possible development is stirring near Park Street, and he wants to see what happens before deciding how to develop his new property. The Grand Millennium Center, a $200 million, 64-acre multi-use development plan driven by Birch Dalton, will be constructed only a few feet south of Moyer’s property and expand to 169th Street.
“We’re going to wait and see how things come together,” Moyer said of his development plans. “I’m not in an enormous rush.”
What Moyer does know is the property will no longer be continued as a pub.
Ideally, the free shuttle will be a year-round service. The shuttle stop is fit with four sides and will be equipped with benches and an indoor heater. Currently, the shuttle only services Park Street, Mill Street Jersey Street and Poplar Street from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. The DWA will expand to other interested merchants as long as the shuttle doesn’t cross a major highway.
“We actually wanted to provide some sort of transportation to assist with some of the local merchants through the construction period, and so we were always looking for way to do that over the last six months,” DWA Executive Director Teresa Skelton said. “We wanted to make sure all participating merchants on Park Street would be well served equally.”
Currently there are three merchants utilizing the shuttle, including Italian House on Park, Chiba and Rail Epicurean Market.
The parking lot at Mill and Park streets is often overflowing, creating a need for more parking. As early as later this year, the east parking lot will close for further construction of Grand Junction Plaza.
For more on Grand Junction Plaza plans, visit westfield.in.gov.
Toby Miles, co-owner of the Rail Epicurean Market with his wife, Melanie, looks forward to the impact the new Park Street Shuttle could have on the restaurant. Through the past two months, Miles said each week is a 100 to 125 percent increase over last year’s sales.
“We’ve (restaurants on Park Street) all seen the best last few months of business we’ve ever seen,” Miles said. “We are upwards of 100 percent growth every single week since last year. Something happened on Park Street where this awesome synergy happened, and it’s a really good mix of restaurants right now. We are turning people away because we are full, even on the weekdays.”
Restaurant owners will pay a monthly stipend to the Downtown Westfield Association, which then pays the shuttle drivers. In all, it’s less expensive than a valet company.
“It also adds this awesome personal touch,” Miles said.