City council explores parking options

After a recent public meeting on parking issues downtown, Seymour City Council is taking a look at an option that would likely open up more parking spaces throughout the day.

The thoroughfare committee plans to study a proposal to make all parking on St. Louis Avenue, south of the railroad tracks, two-hour parking.

That would force more people to park in the city’s public parking lots or face being ticketed.

Currently, the spots north of the tracks are the only ones on the street designated as two-hour parking and are used by customers of nearby businesses and patients of the community health clinic, which now operates a second site out of Dr. Rosemary Weir’s old office building at 120 St. Louis Ave.

There are 48 spaces in one block south of the tracks, where more than 30 spots are not designated two-hour parking.

Most of those spots are being taken up by employees of downtown businesses, some who park there all day long.

It wasn’t known exactly why the parking spots south of the tracks were not made two-hour parking, but it may have been because the city didn’t have enough parking meters for the area back when they were in use, council member Jim Rebber said.

Councilmen Matt Nicholson and Shawn Malone organized last week’s meeting to allow people to voice their concerns and make suggestions on what could be improved. About 30 people attended.

Nicholson and Malone then shared their notes from the meeting with their fellow councilmen.

There were good ideas that came from the meeting and some council aren’t interested in pursuing at this time, such as increasing the fee for two-hour parking violations, Nicholson said.

Right now, parking fees are $3 if paid the day the ticket is issued or $5 if paid later.

Malone said one thing they did learn at the meeting is if there is a customer receiving a service downtown and they are ticketed, the business owner can sign the ticket, take it to the police station and have it waived.

The issue most people attending the meeting seemed to agree on is a need for more consistent enforcement of the two-hour parking.

Councilman Lloyd Hudson said he wasn’t surprised by the information shared from the meeting but thanked Nicholson and Malone for taking the time to listen to the public.

“I thought the comments were a lot like what has been said in the past,” Hudson said. “People are still concerned by the same things.”

Councilman Brian D’Arco asked about people living in apartments above businesses and where they should be allowed to park.

Councilman John Reinhart said he didn’t believe residents living downtown should be treated any different than homeowners, who must have a private driveway if they want to park near their homes.

“I’m not sure the city wants to get into the business of providing residential parking for downtown,” Reinhart said. “That’s what the parking lots are for. They may have to walk, but that’s part of it.”

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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.