Officials asked to solve parking issues downtown

Published 6:50 pm Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Downtown parking concerns took center stage during discussionsat Tuesday night’s meeting of the mayor and board ofaldermen.

First, downtown building owner Johnny Perkins appeared to requestcity assistance in finding additional parking to accommodatecustomers at the new Fox’s Pizza on Monticello Street. He said itwas good that the city has a new business, but bad in that moreparking is now needed for its customers as well as employees andcustomers of other businesses in the area.

“It puts a burden on the north end of the business district forhaving that many parking spaces for it,” Perkins said.

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Perkins urged city officials to consider other areas for parking,such as acquiring railroad property across Whitworth Avenue. MayorLes Bumgarner said the city would look into that possibility.

“It’s going to impinge on businesses in that area if we don’t haveadditional parking,” Perkins said.

Janie Stogner, owner of Janie’s Pastries, was also present lastnight to discuss parking problems elsewhere in downtown. Herconcerns involved renovation contractors and downtown apartmentresidents occupying parking spaces in front of businesses.

“How are we supposed to make a living if people in the apartmentsare going to come and park in front of our businesses?” Stognerasked.

Stogner suggested more enforcement of two-hour parking provisionsor limiting the number of spaces set aside for contractors doingwork on downtown buildings. Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell wassympathetic to the concerns, but also acknowledged a need forcontractor access.

“They do need that access to that construction,” Maxwellsaid.

Maxwell suggested the city pursue a downtown parking garage, butBumgarner said that could not be done without a grant. The aldermanwent on to tout the good problem of having a vibrantdowntown.

“We’re feeling the pain from what you’re saying,” Maxwell toldStogner.

Police Chief Pap Henderson added that large dumpsters are alsocontributing to downtown parking issues.

Bumgarner said another factor is business owners and employeesparking in front of businesses. He said more cooperation is neededfrom them to not do that.

“You can’t get them to understand that that’s not a good idea,’ themayor said.

Joe Fleming, owner of Just Kiddin’ toy store, volunteered tocontact downtown businesses and survey them on parkingissues.

Aldermen pointed out the downtown parking issue was exploredseveral years ago, but no consensus was reached on how to addressconcerns. Ward Four Alderman Shirley Estes said there was no senseof urgency then like there is now.

“A lot more is going on downtown now than three years ago,” Estessaid.

During a later appearance regarding rezoning for a downtownbusiness, Johnny Lynch defended the construction activity. Thebusinessman has been responsible for a number of buildingrenovations in the area.

“It’s a whole lot better than having vacant buildings downtownwasting away,” Lynch said.

Regarding Lynch’s appearance, aldermen approved a zoning changerecommendation to allow a climate controlled mini-storage facility.The business will be located in the old Bargain Center on EastCherokee Street.

In another rezoning matter, the board approved the rezoning of apiece of land near the hospital for use as an assisted livingfacility. Officials with Providence, the facility’s developer, hopeto start construction in October.

Regarding the facility, Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell, in whoseward it will be located, expressed some disappointment in his lackof involvement in the planning. Community officials have madeseveral trips to Senatobia to see a similar facility inaction.

“Nobody has said the first thing to me about it,” said Maxwell,adding that he advised hospital officials early on about how to goabout seeking the property rezoning.

Maxwell went on to make the motion to approve the rezoning.

In other action, aldermen indicated support – but did not formallyapprove – a request from Fox’s Pizza owner Randy Eckman to sellbottled beer at the new establishment. Officials advised him toseek the required signatures of 80 percent of surrounding propertyowners having no objection and then contact the city to obtain abeer permit.