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Opposition to parallel parking voiced at public forum

Justin Addison, Editor/Publisher
Posted 4/9/24

Around 60 people made their voices heard regarding proposed changes to downtown parking during a public forum hosted by the City of Fayette at the courthouse on Thursday evening. While a few ideas …

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Opposition to parallel parking voiced at public forum


Around 60 people made their voices heard regarding proposed changes to downtown parking during a public forum hosted by the City of Fayette at the courthouse on Thursday evening. While a few ideas were bandied about, everyone in attendance was united on one thing: parallel parking. From paper surveys handed out to comments made, everyone agreed they did not want parallel parking downtown, especially on North Main Street.

All current city council members attended the forum except for East Ward Alderwoman Stephanie Ford and outgoing mayor Jeremy Dawson. Mayor-elect Greg Stidham and Southwest Ward Alderwoman-elect LeeAnna Shiflett were also present.

Jim Fram, a consultant and economic development leader from Community Growth Strategies, LLC., was brought in as a third-party moderator. He ran the forum and fielded community input from those in attendance.

The forum was conducted to gauge the community’s desires to improve downtown parking based on a recent report produced by engineering firm OWN., Inc., at the behest of the Historic Downtown Fayette Commercial Community Improvement District (CID).

Derek Forbis, from OWN, Inc., addressed attendees before departing for another meeting. He reiterated to the crowd that while the report makes recommendations, it is not a plan set in stone. “This is a working document that has changed many times over different recommendations,” he said.

The report has sparked quite an uproar regarding its depictions of parallel parking on portions of Main Street and in front of Eagle Plaza on Church Street. In fact, out of the 47 surveys turned in, not one person was in favor of parallel parking along North Main Street. One respondent answered in the affirmative regarding parallel parking on South Main Street, and seven indicated they wanted parallel parking in front of Eagle Plaza.

“Parallel parking isn’t going to work,” Mickie Foland said matter-of-factly. She owns the Peacock Beauty Shop on North Main Street. 

Foland also addressed what she considers to be inadequate handicapped parking downtown, particularly near her shop, which serves many elderly customers.

“Today, I had two people in wheelchairs who had to double-park because there was no parking for them,” Foland said.

She also complained that three-hour parking laws were neither observed nor enforced. “I have a vehicle that has been sitting in front of my shop since seven o’clock this morning,” she said. “They were still there when I left at five. If we enforce the signs, we can earn some revenue for the town, too, and we can have some more parking. It’s just ridiculous the way it is.”

Parking by employees of downtown businesses was also a point of contention for many at the forum. Cana Conrow, Executive Director of Downtown Fayette, formerly Fayette Main Street, said she conducted a parking inventory with downtown businesses and found that many of the parking spaces are used by employees. “When you come on a Friday or Saturday night, is there a parking problem,” she asked. “That’s a good indication.”

Conrow said her findings show that employees and residents in downtown apartments use most of the parking spaces.

“The pressure is from us, the business owners,” she said.

The surveys also asked participants their opinions on making traffic flow around the square one way. The change was suggested in order to increase the angles of parking stalls, which would allow for more spaces.

Surveys showed mixed results regarding one-way traffic, with 19 voting for it, 20 voting against it, and eight indicating indifference on the matter.

In September 2019, the city changed the angles of downtown parking spaces to allow traffic to pass through the narrow streets more easily. That change increased the width of driving lanes by around 10 feet but reduced the number of parking spaces around the square by 41%, from 217 to 127, according to this newspaper’s count. The old lines were also painted over in black. Yellow lines marked the new spaces, which some still find confusing.

“We know that something has to be done about the parking lines,” said J.B. Waggoner, a downtown business owner and member of the CID board. 

Waggoner brought up another problem, where downtown employees can park that isn’t downtown. Apart from a city-owned lot beside City Hall, no public parking lots exist. His employees park alongside his building on North Main Street, where there are no storefronts.

“That’s the best we can do,” he said. “I guess we could park in residential areas in front of people’s houses. We’re doing the best we can.”

County employees also park on the inside of the square in front of the courthouse where there are no time restrictions.

Additional questions were raised regarding delivery trucks downtown and crosswalks. Those will undoubtedly be addressed in future design drafts.

In a report delivered to the city, Fram recommended the city council appoint a task force to identify and make recommendations regarding off-site parking and regulations for downtown business employees. He said there will more than likely be some parallel parking required, but every effort should be made to keep it to a minimum, and four-way stops should remain at the downtown square intersections for the safety of both drivers and pedestrians.

Thursday’s forum regarding downtown parking will probably not be the last. It is hoped a plan could be approved sometime before a new overlay of downtown streets is completed, either in the spring or summer. That way new parking lines can be painted in accordance. The city council was expected to discuss the forum at Tuesday’s meeting after the Advertiser went to press. The council, which has the ultimate authority to make some, all, or no changes to downtown parking, will likely seek additional input before enacting any alterations.

The Board of Aldermen meets regularly at 6 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month in City Hall. Meetings are open, agendas are published in advance, and the public is invited.


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