West Jefferson Mayor Dale Hudler is hoping to bring merchants and other interested townspeople together to discuss the issue on Monday, May 4 at 8 a.m. at town hall. He hopes merchants attend in order to discuss their concerns.
An ongoing problem in the busy downtown, parking space is crucial to business owners. Everyone wants enough space for customers, but it seems few business owners want to free up space by parking somewhere other than right in front of their stores. Some try to free up space in front of their own businesses by parking in front of someone else’s business. And some try to prohibit people from parking in front of their business if the person is going somewhere else.
The parking wars issue has arisen on several occasions at the board of aldermen meeting in recent years, and even led to an ordinance prohibiting business owners from parking in front of their stores. Town officials have tried to encourage business owners on Jefferson Avenue to park on the Backstreet, but as business has grown on the Backstreet, the parking issue has expanded to that area as well. There are a number of spaces on West Main Street beyond the West Jefferson Depot above the Backstreet that are rarely used, possibly due to the walking distance required to reach Jefferson Avenue and because anyone parking in that area must cross a busy intersection on the Backstreet in order to reach Jefferson Avenue.
This is an ongoing problem in a small town, especially where there is no fee for parking, said Town Manager Greg McGinnis. He said business owners constantly violate the ordinance prohibiting them from parking in front of their businesses, and the ordinance is not easily enforced. It should probably be abolished, he said. Town police officers have no idea what vehicle to ticket if they do not know which vehicles belong to the merchants.
When the ordinance was noted during a September 2006 West Jefferson Aldermen discussion of parking in the downtown, the mayor and one of the aldermen at that time were mentioned as being violators of the ordinance. A West Jefferson Police detective said he knew their vehicles, but should they be ticketed? The police did not have time to run the license plates of every vehicle parked in the downtown area, said the detective. While the ordinance was in place, there had been no enforcement of it.
Anyone with concerns about this issue is invited to come to the meeting Monday morning.