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Downtown parking debate continues

The issue of downtown parking continues to be a controversy forwhich an immediate resolution does not seem probable, with downtownresidents, business owners and shoppers all having differentopinions.

“If two-hour parking is what we need, it’s what we need,”downtown resident Terry Pappas told the Brookhaven Board ofAldermen at their regular meeting Tuesday night. “But I don’t seehow that would work downtown. I think it could stifle the progressthat’s being made downtown.”

While a policy has not yet been set by the board on parking indowntown areas, ideas have been tossed around. Those include havingpolice patrol parked cars again to enforce a fairly defuncttwo-hour parking law currently in place.

Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson recently presented boardmembers with the parking policies used by McComb and Natchez sothey could look at what is working for cities of similar sizes. Hesaid Brookhaven’s law on the books has not been enforced for manyyears.

“I was here when we stopped enforcing it, but I wasn’t chief,”he said. “So I don’t know the actual reason why it stopped.”

Henderson said at one point in the city’s history there wereactually parking meters that kept up with how long people stayed ina parking spot.

“Then they took them down and we would mark the tires,” he said.”I was doing shift work then.”

Ward Four Alderwoman Shirley Estes said Wright’s Fabrics onCherokee Street is a prime example of a business where peopleactually shop for extended periods of time, as decorators willspend several hours matching fabrics for interior design.

Mayor Bob Massengill said while some people shop for longer thantwo hours, there are also people who park for longer periods oftime in front of their own businesses and offices.

“I’d like to see us form a committee, or put some aldermentogether or whatever to take a look at this,” Pappas said at thisweek’s meeting.

Massengill said he had thought about the issues, and he agreed asubcommittee needs to explore the options for parking. As thesituation stands, there will be differences of opinion amongdowntown patrons and residents, he said.

“I don’t know the answer either, but hopefully the subcommitteewill be able to come up with some ideas,” he said. “There arebusiness people, people who live in apartments, attorneys who parkin front of their offices. When you go in to correct a situation,you could potentially create another.”

Henderson said whatever the city decides, his department will behappy to enforce, but that the old laws do need to be brought outand looked at again.

“They need to look at what they’ve got and decide if they’regoing to enforce it,” he said. “I think they just need to talk itover and come up with some ideas.”

Massengill appointed Ward Three Alderwoman Mary Wilson to headthe subcommittee, with Estes and Alderman at large Les Bumgarneralso helping with the brainstorming.

Bumgarner said while the parking quandary is annoying, heindicated it’s still a good sign for the downtown area.

“If we’re going to do this, we should do it right, and we shouldonly have to do it once,” he said of dealing with the parkingsituation. “I see this as growing pains.”