Council sets parking meeting

Residents and business owners with concerns, ideas or opinions about parking in downtown Seymour are being asked to attend a meeting Monday.

City councilmen Matt Nicholson and Shawn Malone decided to organize the meeting after hearing people complain about not being able to park downtown.

The town hall style meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the Seymour Community Center, 107 S. Chestnut St.

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“After several conversations with community members, Shawn and I decided to have this meeting to gather information from the public,” Nicholson said.

From the meeting, they hope to get ideas to bring back to the council for further discussion and possible changes.

Nicholson, who owns a bike and skate shop downtown and promotes alternative transportation, said he’s not sure if there really is a parking problem or if it’s just people’s perception.

There are five free parking lots downtown, but many people won’t stop if they can’t park in front of a business, he said.

“The No. 1 complaint I have heard so far is from business owners saying there is no place for their customers to park,” Nicholson said.

One of those business owners is Sandy Cockerham, who runs Java Joint coffee shop at 120 N. Chestnut St.

She believes the problem is lack of enforcement of the city’s two-hour parking ordinance.

“There is no consistency,” she said. “Some days, you see cars park there all day long with no worries. Other days, you might get a ticket.”

But even the threat of a ticket isn’t enough to get people to obey the law, she said. That’s because the fee is just $3 if paid the day the ticket is issued or $5 otherwise.

“With the ticket being so low, most people couldn’t care less if they get one or not,” she said. “Somehow, the issue needs to be resolved so customers don’t lose their desire to shop or visit downtown because of little or no parking.”

Cockerham was successful in petitioning city council to give her a designated 15-minute parking spot in front of her business for customers. But she said that it’s not monitored or enforced any better.

Another big problem is the amount of parking taken up by patients of the community health clinic, which now has two downtown offices, one on Chestnut Street and the other on St. Louis Avenue.

“If we could promote the parking lots more or maybe even have one lot for the clinic’s patients, that would help,” she said.

Heather Grube, who co-owns Beautiful Chaos gift and craft store at 114 N. Chestnut St., agreed parking violations should be more expensive. But she also believes business owners and downtown residents should be able to pay an annual parking fee for the privilege to park near their business.

“The city could set the price, and I would be willing to do that,” she said.

If you go

What: Town hall meeting to discuss downtown parking

Where: Seymour Community Center, 107 S. Chestnut St.

When: 7 p.m. Monday

Who: Open to the public

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.