The angle of the parking spaces will be changed from 60 to 75 degrees so they are more perpendicular to the sidewalk, creating additional parking spots.

The city of Ashland is changing the angle of parking on the downtown Plaza this summer as part of a plan to increase safety and add a few parking spots.

The angle of the parking spaces will be changed from 60 to 75 degrees so they are more perpendicular to the sidewalk, creating additional parking spots.

Associate Engineer Pieter Smeenk said city officials are not yet sure when the work will start, except that it will take place this summer — probably on a Monday to minimize disruptions during the tourist season.

In addition to changing the angle of the parking stripes, the city will pour concrete over two parking spots in front of Mix Sweet Shoppe, creating a wide sidewalk space.

The two parking spots, which are closest to busy North Main Street, are being eliminated because drivers back out into Main when they leave.

After Plaza merchants objected to the loss of the parking spaces, city staff and traffic experts came up with the plan to change the angle of the remaining spots to increase the number of spaces.

The parking angle will be changed in front of Plaza businesses and Ashland City Hall.

The change, approved by the council on Tuesday, will net two additional parking spots.

To improve safety for people using the crosswalk near City Hall, workers will pour concrete to extend the sidewalk a short distance into the street — a change known as a "bump-out."

Pedestrians will have to stay off the newly poured concrete for a day, Smeenk said.

The widened sidewalk in front of Mix Sweet Shoppe will create room for sidewalk dining, newspaper racks, bicycle parking or other uses.

The city charges fees for businesses that have outdoor dining on public sidewalks.

Sidewalk dining could help the city recover some of the cost of the concrete work, according to a staff memo to the Ashland City Council.

Smeenk estimated the cost for all the concrete work and striping at between $4,000 and $10,000, depending on the difficulty the city has in dealing with storm drains in the area.

Councilwoman Carol Voisin said she hopes the new area by Mix Sweet Shoppe will be used for bicycle parking.

"Let's get serious about having space for bikes," she said.

Councilman Eric Navickas said he also would like to see more bike parking.

He said eliminating the two spots in front of Mix Sweet Shoppe improves safety.

"There's always been a dangerous situation of cars backing out onto Main," he said.

Not everyone is happy with the planned changes.

In a letter to the Ashland Public Works Department, Plaza business owner William Barchet said changes should not be made piecemeal, without the city having a Plaza master plan.

Instead of eliminating parking in front of Mix, he said those spaces should have been turned into motorcycle parking.

"That would free up standard spaces now occupied by motorcycles during the warm seasons when the need for those spaces is most critical," Barchet said in the letter.

City officials are exploring whether they can add a motorcycle parking space on the north side of the sidewalk near City Hall.

Barchet said with the parking angle as it is now, people barely have enough room to get in and out of parking spaces when trucks are parked on the Plaza unloading merchandise.

Trucks often park in the street across from parked cars, next to the Plaza's center island.

Increasing the parking angle will make it even harder for people to get in and out because they will need more room to maneuver, Barchet said.

Smeenk agreed, but added, "It shouldn't be that difficult. We may ask the trucks to park as close to the curb as possible."

Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.