Downtown Merchants Bemoan Parking Problems

April 29, 2003
Posted at: 10:35 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, Ark. -- Some downtown Jonesboro merchants say parking is a problem in the newly renovated area. Others say the lack of rule enforcement is the issue. Either way, parking continues to be a potential speed bump in the restoration of the historic district.

Members of the city Parking Committee met Tuesday night "just to discuss" concerns residents have about parking. They say on-street and off-street parking, and even alleyways need to be re-examined for safety's sake.

"Generally there is plenty of space," restaurant owner Piero Trimarchi said. "The problem arises when people park, come in at nine o'clock in the morning and park in one spot and stay there all day."

The time limit for most parking spaces downtown is two hours. While Trimarchi says the limit is not being enforced, resident Marianne Hays says it has not a problem for her: "I can usually find some place to park."

Parking subcommittee Chairperson Cecil Province says a lack of parking downtown isn't the biggest concern for him, it's safety. Especially in congested alleyways.

"If we have a fire or an emergency down there, I do not believe we could negotiate an alley with the parking we have down there right now," Province said.

The city owns a free parking lot off Cate Avenue and Church Street. But even during business hours, not many people use the parking lot. However, other citizens have found creative uses for it.

"(The lost) has also been the sight of where cars have been left, more or less used as storage for another business, and we can't permit that," Province said.

Trimarchi admits that downtown workers don't help the situation by following the parking rules either.

"It's not only our employees," he said. "It's us ourselves. We just park there, because nobody's gonna say anything."

Parking committee members will likely be changing that pattern of poor parking practices in the next couple of months. They have about two weeks to drive through city streets and alleys to survey current parking situations before meeting together on May 13 to discuss what action to take next to correct the parking problems.