Downtown businesses riled over parking
by JOYANNA LOVE Banner Senior Staff Writer
Oct 30, 2013 | 1265 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Changes to parking implemented by city leaders around Johnston Park are causing concern for downtown Cleveland business owners.

Attorney Scott Kanavos and Doug Caywood of The Lewis Group spoke to the Cleveland City Council about recent changes limiting the spots to two-hour parking.

Kanavos said he would have liked the Council to give more notice that a change was being made and allow the public to give input.

“I would have absolutely voiced these concerns with you,” Kanavos said.

Kanavos said he has employees coming to work in the dark, and “the nearest public parking lot is four football fields away, so we park in front of the office.”

Employees were also using the Johnston Park spaces before the changes were made.

“Most of the time around Johnston Park those spaces are vacant,” Kanavos said.

He said the signage did not match what was used throughout the rest of downtown.

“In the one area that Scott had a question about the signage was very different from other blocks,” City Manager Janice Casteel said.

She said most blocks have signs on each end of the block and one in the middle. A sign was left off the end of one of the blocks of changed spots, making it look like a few spots were not under the limitation.

“I would just like to voice concerns of the business owners from Inman Street up to the Courthouse. I know we have enough parking downtown according to the study, but as far as the distances for our businesses there are probably 15 to 20 employees on that block that have used those spaces for years,” Caywood said. “Now, we have about six spaces that are three blocks now that we can park in and there are eight to 10 spaces … that are vacant the majority of the day.”

He said when he is showing offices for rent he had been telling people they could park in these spots. However, he said now the closest long-term parking is about four blocks away.

“It’s liming the potential for businesses moving in,” Caywood said.

Other concerns about activity around Johnston Park were also discussed.

“I believe what we have going on respective to Johnston Park and the surrounding area is a perfect storm for trouble,” Kanavos said.

He said a soup kitchen downtown is drawing homeless people to the area and the patrons congregate in Johnston Park.

One man has been living in his car on the block, according to Kanavos. He listed this as a reason he believed the parking limits have been imposed.

Mayor Tom Rowland suggested the city create an ordinance saying if a car is in the same place for more than 48 hours it will be towed. He asked the city attorney to look into if the city could adopt such an ordinance.

Later in the meeting, Doug Berry, vice president of economic development for the Chamber of Commerce, mentioned a solution that been successful in Knoxville. For business or residents wanting to park closer to where they work or live, parking spaces by permit only are available, Berry said.

“We have people living downtown now that have to park on the street,” Rowland said.

Whether this would be an option for the city is still being researched.

The signs restricting parking to two hours remain for now.