Tomball tackles festival parking problems

TOMBALL, TX (KTRK) -- It's the start of festival season, and as many suburbs get ready for big events, one small town is combating a challenge head-on.

With more and more housing developments going up in Northwest Harris County, historic Tomball feels the boost in the economy. With so many new residents visiting the old town, their lack of parking posed a major problem.

"The growth that we've seen is Tomball is just unbelievable. We're seeing new business come in, new home developments. We have several major festivals a year, and parking has really become an issue," said Tomball mayor Gretchen Fagan.

The downtown area offers less than 300 parking spaces, and the narrow side streets are not equipped for parking.

"There's times when customers have to park nearly one mile away and walk down during festivals," said Nonnie's Soda Fountain owner Laura Wilson.

Mayor Fagan said she knew she needed to create more parking before the German Heritage Festival starts this weekend.

"The estimated - and I can kind of tell by how many kegs of beers we sell - the estimated guests last March was 60,000 people," Fagan said.

So this year, the city partnered with the nearby medical centers to provide ample parking.

"We've added an additional 800 spots with the help of the Tomball Regional Medical Center, which is our hospital; Lone Star College, which is our nursing school, which is across the street from the hospital; and one of the medical centers. And, on James Street, there's a doctor's office there that has also agreed to let us use their spots," Fagan said.

To further alleviate parking problems, there will be shuttles running to carry festival goers to the event.

"We're going to run three shuttles continuously Saturday and Sunday. They'll start at 9:30am Saturday and Sunday, and they'll run an hour after the festival closes," said Grady Martin, president of the Tomball Sister City Organization.

As an added incentive, those who take the shuttle will receive free beer mugs, while supplies last.

For more information on the shuttle, click here.
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