Kim Eroh decided it was time to speak out.
The Statesville City Council rejected a staff request that included spending more money to reconsider switching from angle to parallel parking downtown. So Eroh pleaded her case at the Dec. 21 council meeting. She went armed with slides and a three-page statement.
"I interpreted the council's actions as a sign that the parking decision was a done deal," said Eroh, who owns and operates Doodlebug's Children's Consignment on West Broad Street. "So I wanted them to know that there was a way we could have a plan which retained angle parking ... the best of both worlds."
The issue: whether the city should change parking on Broad Street as part of an overhaul of the downtown streetscape.
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Going to parallel parking would mean a net loss of 31 spaces, from 167 to 136. While parallel-parking advocates believe it is safer and more pedestrian-friendly, downtown merchants prefer diagonal parking.
"Many downtown merchants have surveyed their customers and have found that, overwhelmingly, customers are not in favor of parallel parking ... In fact, many say they will stop coming to shop downtown if they have to parallel park or park blocks away," Eroh told the council.
No council member commented after Eroh's presentation.
But in a later interview, council member Bonita Eisele said, "A majority of the council felt spending $28,000 now would be premature until we get the results of the as-built survey we ordered back in November." As-built surveys depict the location of all existing improvements on a site, including buildings, parking areas, utilities, trees, storm drainage systems, sewers and any other physical features. City officials expect it to be completed by early spring.
City planners had looked at parking alternatives. "Depending upon what the as-built survey says, we may look at the plan again," Eisele said.
The parallel parking plan has its supporters, too.
"We own property at Broad and Center, and we support the proposed changes," Donna Karr told the council. "I think this is a huge step in the right direction."
Eroh said she still believes most downtown Statesville merchants would favor many of the improvements suggested in the plan, except for the parking change.
"I urge the council to amend the roadmap and approve drafting alternate downtown streetscape designs which will include angled parking."