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Aldermen hear citizens’ views on parking issue

Some Brookhavenites have spoken out on the issue of downtownparking, and a subcommittee of aldermen was listening.

Ward Four Alderwoman Shirley Estes said the downtown parkingsubcommittee, which consists of her, Alderman at-large LesBumgarner and chairwoman Ward Three Alderwoman Mary Wilson hadgleaned some suggestions from an Internet survey put out by theBrookhaven Downtown Association.

Wilson was not in attendance at Tuesday night’s meeting, butEstes read some of the suggestions from the surveys aloud. Estessaid the committee had not come up with any recommendations oftheir own yet, but that Wilson had asked her to brief the board onsome of the public’s opinions.

“A slight majority said there is no problem with parkingdowntown,” Estes said.

Suggestions from the community ranged from building a parkinggarage to making Cherokee Street a one-way street. It was alsosuggested that property owners park in downtown lots rather than onthe street, or that employees and business owners park only infront of their own businesses.

Aldermen admitted some of the suggestions put forth by thepublic were not currently realistic. However, they said if thecity’s economy ever grew to where additional parking is needed,they could be a possibility.

Estes said she hopes to be able to pass out a list of thepossible solutions to board members at the next meeting.

City Attorney Joe Fernald asked if anyone had an idea of howmany available parking spots there are in the downtown area, bothpublic and private.

“I bet you’d find an inordinate amount of parking spots,” hesaid.

Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell agreed.

“I have no problem getting parking anywhere I want to godowntown,” he said.

Officials agreed that on “check-cashing” days and atChristmastime, the areas around the banks can be crowded.

“But you hate to have a policy that affects all year when itonly applies a couple of times a year,” Bumgarner said.

Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron pointed out that a parkinggarage might not be a good answer to the issue.

“McComb built one years ago, and it’s still a big whiteelephant,” he said. “Nobody uses it.”

Bumgarner pointed out that in economic times like these, aparking issue is a good one to have.

“If all our parking spots are taken, we’re doing OK,” hesaid.

Aldermen decided to further discuss the issue at the next boardmeeting, when the parking subcommittee has been able to assemble alist of possible solutions.