Parking limit signs installed on Main Street

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks A recently installed two hour parking sign on Main Street has at least one business owner in an uproar. The signs were placed in numerous locations Tuesday along Main Street.

Sharna Johnson

Some downtown business owners were surprised to discover new 2-hour parking limit signs being installed along the seven blocks of Main Street on Tuesday morning.

John Pritchett, who owns an art gallery in the 200 block of Main said he was shocked when he arrived at work in the morning and saw the signs in front of his business.

“None of the businesses were told about it, it was just pushed through,” he said Tuesday afternoon.

Public Works Director Clint Bunch said the decision to post parking time limits was made after some business owners attended a public works committee meeting and expressed concern about other businesses holding events that led to their customers being deprived parking.

Bunch said the committee, with four city commissioners as members, voted unanimously to post signs limiting the length of time someone can park street-side on Main Street between First and Seventh streets.

Based on the committee’s recomendation, City Manager Joe Thomas approved the placement of the signs.

“The public works committee thought this would be the best way to handle it,” he said.

“We had some businesses in the area that they would have seminars or special programs (and) they would take up all the street parking on Main.”

Pritchett said he spent the better part of his day visiting with other business owners on Main Street after he saw the signs, and spoke with the city in an effort to find out where the signs came from and why.

“We have so many irate business owners,” he said.

“What we feel like is that even though the city … passed it, we knew nothing about it.”

Bunch said he got several calls from business owners Tuesday after the signs were installed, some happy with the restrictions, some not.

He said he encouraged business owners with concerns about the signs to attend the next Public Works Committee meeting Aug. 24.

“We’re willing to help out the public anyway we can and if there’s a better idea, we’d like to hear it,” he said.

Bunch said while there is no plan to actively enforce parking time limits along Main Street, the signs offer the city options for enforcement.

Bunch said the signs are a tool to give the city the ability to take action if someone occupies a parking space for an excessive period of time.

“It does not say your vehicle will be towed. This is more to give the general public the idea that they don’t need to be parking there all day,” he said.

Pritchett said he has never had issues with parking for his customers in the two years his gallery has been on Main Street.

He said he frequently holds gallery openings and night events and wants to be sure his customers can stay and enjoy his events without fear of their vehicles being towed.

At the same time, he said he doesn’t understand why the city would put up signs they don’t intend to enforce.

“The bottom line is they spent all this money on signs and manpower and they’re not going to enforce it,” he said.