The business owners and operators on St. Louis Street may be the right people to decide whether the two-hour parking ban should stay in effect and where, according to Mayor Herb Adams.
Some business owners say there is no need to limit parking to two hours anywhere in the old downtown business district. Others say limiting parking in front of their business is important.
Speaking at the Jan. 15 board of aldermen meeting, individual business owners each explained how limited parking or unlimited parking affects their business.
Nancy Omer, who operates Omer Account at 107 W. St. Louis St., said she does not like two-hour parking. Her building has no off-street parking, so the only place that she and her employees can park is on the street.
The ability to park in front of their building is especially important this time of year, Omer said, when they work longer hours and often leave work after dark.
“I don’t feel safe walking along the street in the dark,” she said.
April Aubuchon, who owns Kaleidoscope Resale Shop at 136 W. St. Louis St., wants the two-hour limit because her business depends on the ability of individuals who want to bring items to her store for resale to park in front of the store to unload.
“If there is no place for them to park, they just keep going,” Aubuchon said. “My business depends on them being able to park and bring things into the store.”
Alderman Brad Reed, who operates Reed Insurance Agency at 104 W. St. Louis St., said he wants the two-hour parking for the same reason. He doesn’t want employees from the businesses across the street parking in front of his business. He wants those space left for his customers.
Reed told Omer that she and her employees could park on the commuter parking lot one-half a block away.
Alderman Ed Gass made a motion establishing two-hour parking on some sides of the streets in some blocks, which he said reflects the parking patterns of today’s businesses.
Gass said the two-hour parking ordinance, which had been in effect for over 30 years, made sense at one time.
“There used to be four grocery stores along there,” he noted. “There were two shoe stores, two drugstores, a hardware store, bank, post office and jewelry store.”
Gass suggested limiting parking to two hours on the 100 block of East St. Louis Street, the north side of the 100 block on West St. Louis Street and the 200 block on the south side of West St. Louis Street.
Alderman Mike Pigg said he thought things were moving too quickly. He said he was not comfortable taking action yet.
“I think we need to do a lot more talking on this before we settle on an answer,” Pigg said.
Alderman Walter Arnette said he would like to see a police study of parking on the street and a report made to the board before an ordinance is finalized.
Aubuchon said she believed that the merchants could work out, among themselves, the best parking practices for the businesses.
The mayor endorsed the idea, saying it would be better for all concerned if the merchants came up with their own solution.
“If the mayor and the aldermen get involved, we seem to mess it up,” Adams said. “It would be better if you all could discuss this and come back to us with a proposal.”