Finding a parking spot in downtown South Haven during the summer months can be likened to finding a needle in a haystack.

It’s not a dilemma lost on the Downtown Development Authority, which plans to fund a study by Grand Rapids-based Progressive AE architectural and engineering firm to determine ways to improve traffic flow and increase parking spaces in the central business district.

Specifically, DDA members would like the study to examine whether to convert Quaker Street, and possibly Phoenix Street, into one-way thoroughfares, downtown, with traffic flowing west on Phoenix and east on Quaker. Doing so could decrease traffic congestion on Phoenix – the downtown’s main drag, and increase parking spaces on Quaker Street, which would feature angled parking rather than parallel spots.

“We could have 32 new spots,” DDA Executive Director Sue Brock said, regarding reconfiguring Quaker Street’s parking spaces.

But before spending money on a study, the DDA board, on Wednesday, asked Brock to gauge whether city council members would be in favor of switching one or both Phoenix and Quaker to one-way streets, specifically, Quaker Street.

“We can’t decide to change the streets,” DDA board member Tom Rummell said during Wednesday’s meeting. “The city council would have to do that. I would want to test the waters with the city council, first.”

DDA members also asked Brock to get two cost estimates from Progressive AE: One would entail the traffic flow implications from turning Quaker Street, from Center Street to Broadway Avenue, into a one-way road with angle parking, while the other estimate would seek the cost of conducting a traffic flow and parking study for the entire downtown central business district.

Prior to Wednesday’s meeting, Brock had obtained a quote for $22,000 from Progressive AE to conduct an overall parking study of the central business district, however, DDA members felt the proposal put more emphasis on addressing parking needs, instead of analyzing ways to improve both parking and traffic flow.

“I thought we were headed in the direction of parking and flow of traffic,” said DDA member Tom Feeney.

He was referring to DDA discussions last year, when members considered working with Hale block developer Randy Locker to build a two-story parking garage at the site of the city parking lot on Quaker Street. But that proposal fizzled when city officials determined the expense and difficulty in doing so would not be worth the effort.

The Quaker Street parking garage proposal, however, led DDA members to examine the idea of converting Quaker Street to a one-way street with angled parking to create an additional 30 parking spots, and possibly changing Phoenix Street to a one-way street, downtown, to minimize pedestrian and vehicle congestion. The discussions the DDA had last year led them to ask Brock to obtain an estimate on how much a downtown traffic study would cost.

But a more comprehensive study that addresses both parking and traffic flow – specifically converting Quaker Street to one-way, will probably be more costly, which is why the DDA is seeking input from the city council on whether they would favor turning one or more downtown streets into one-way thoroughfares.