Business owners object to parking proposition

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Kay White believes that something needs to be done to fix parking issues in downtown Augusta but says meters aren't the solution.

The front of her store, Whitehouse Antiques on Broad Street, is clogged with cars belonging to neighboring business owners and loft-apartment residents.

Parking meters would chase them away and open more places for her patrons to park, but she's concerned they might also chase away the customers.

In December, the Downtown Development Authority board approved a proposal to implement a parking-management system that includes metering 1,000 parking spaces in eight blocks of Broad Street and some side streets. The recommendation must still pass the Augusta Commission.

The proposal involves charging $1 an hour for parking between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays and boosting the fines for violators.

"I don't think we need that now," Ms. White said. "We're still struggling. We've still got a ways to go to be a viable downtown area to draw people into this town."

She is not alone in her opposition to the authority's parking-meter proposal.

Of 104 businesses and agencies polled by The Augusta Chronicle , only one was in favor of the meters -- along with a few undecided businesses that were favorable to the concept but not the current plan.

Eighty-eight of the surveyed Broad Street corridor businesses -- 85 percent -- said they did not favor parking meters.

"We don't want to put deterrents in front of people," said Jeff Gorelick, who runs Ruben's department store.

Mr. Gorelick said Walmart is 2.4 miles away in North Augusta. He asked why people would pay to shop downtown when there is free parking so close.

Development authority Executive Director Margaret Woodard sees a discrepancy in the argument of opponents.

"They think it is OK to take up those spaces with residents and their own employees and then not have any place for the consumer to park," she said.

The authority believes that freeing up parking space for customers and creating a constant turnover with the time limits will allow more downtown shoppers to visit stores. Ms. Woodard said people cruise around the block twice, can't find a spot to park, and then leave downtown.

Ms. Woodard said that she is not surprised by the results of the poll and that she considers it to be an initial knee-jerk reaction. There haven't been parking meters on Broad Street for 31 years, so this would be a dramatic change for businesses and patrons.

"Of course, it isn't popular because they're going to have to park somewhere else. Everybody is getting on the negative bandwagon, and it is going to take time," she said.

The authority is not going to take the parking-management plan to the Augusta Commission this month as originally planned, she said, so that it can spend more time on the concerns expressed to them.

"The biggest concern expressed is, where are we going to park? Will it be safe? Will it be well lit?" Ms. Woodard said. "We're homing in on some of the concerns."

The authority is going to make a block-by-block study of off-Broad Street parking in an effort to find places for residents and workers.

Dee Bruker, of insurance company Sanford, Bruker & Banks Inc., said there might eventually be a need for meters after the TEE Center and Hyatt hotel are built.

The only difficult time in finding a parking place, he said, is during lunchtime.

"If we had the high-end retail shops and the foot traffic like they have on King Street in Charleston (S.C.), I would support parking meters," he said. "Hopefully, one day Broad Street will have a Starbucks and a Lacoste and a Williams-Sonoma and a Talbots and so on. I support Margaret Woodard and am appreciative of all that she has done to help downtown. I think she is jumping the gun on this one, though."

Michele Hattman, who owns Costumes by Michele, said she's lucky that her store is considered a destination place, being one of the few costume shops in town. Although she is against the meters, she believes that patrons will continue to see her and pay the parking meter.

"They will shop and then leave," Ms. Hattman said.

Parking meters will hurt the downtown economy, she said, because shoppers will be conscious of the time limits and won't visit neighboring stores.

Parking is currently free, with a two-hour time limit, though tickets are rarely issued -- and the fines are not enforced. There haven't been parking meters on Broad Street since 1978.

Among the businesses that oppose the return of the meters is Casella Eye Center.

"We are Medcaid providers. We see a lot of people who don't have a lot of resources," Dr. Tom Casella said. "They come down here to get their eye care. Why should they pay $1 to go to the eye doctor?"

Sho Ane, the owner of ShoAne Design Studio, threatened to move her bridal store to Columbia County if meters are installed.

"We work so hard to build up downtown, and now they kill our business with the meters?" she said. "I'm not going to let my business die because of the meter."

Even one of the original champions of parking meters, Carless Gay, at Cloud Nine Natural, has tweaked his opinion of the proposal.

"For me, I think it would be great," he said. "but I don't want it if it's going to hurt my neighbors."

Reach Tim Rausch at (706) 823-3352 or timothy.rausch@augustachronicle.com.

THE SURVEY


The Augusta Chronicle approached businesses on Broad Street and asked whether they were in favor of the Downtown Development Authority's parking meter proposal. Not every owner/manager could be found, but here are the results from those who chose to participate:

BETWEEN FIFTH AND SIXTH STREETS

Artistic Perceptions Inc.: No


GA-Carolina Restaurant Supply: No


Sidney's Department Store: No


Downtown Pawn Shop: No


Sports Center Billiards: No opinion


Riverfront Pub: No opinion

BETWEEN SIXTH AND SEVENTH STREETS


Ramada Inn: No

BETWEEN SEVENTH AND EIGHTH STREETS


The Augusta Chronicle: Undecided


Coffee Break: No


Joe's Underground Cafe: No


Rock Bottom Music Center: No


Casella Eye Center: No

BETWEEN EIGHTH AND NINTH STREETS


Discount Fashions: No


New Bell Discount Beauty Supply: No


Covington Credit: No


Studio Velocity: No


Pyramid Music & Video: No


Once Again Thrift Store: No


Keep it Tight Barber Store: No


Caribbean Soul Restaurant: Undecided


Career Personnel & Temps Services: Undecided


Bigg Folks: No


Silla Cafe: No


ESi: No


PVC Music: No


Broad Street Signs and Graphics: No


Richmond County Board of Education: Undecided

BETWEEN NINTH AND 10TH STREETS


Blue Sky: No


Schweitzer Art: No


Nacho Mama's: No


Crosby's Women's Apparel: No


Nan's Collections: No


Sherzer Insurance Agency: No


David's Menswear: No


Casablanca Cafe: No


Fuji Wigs: No


Ruben's: No


Brigand's Land of Enchantment and Pops: No


Lion of Judah Culture Shop: No


Gunslingers Tattoo Parlor: No


Classic Impressions Photography: No


Rhodes Variety Shop: No


Television station WAGT: No


University Health: No


Guarantee Finance: No


Perry & Co. Salon: No


Sanford, Bruker & Banks: No


Still Water Tap Room: No


The Soul Bar: No

BETWEEN 10TH AND 11TH STREETS


R.W. Allen: Undecided


Service Loan Co.: No


Apex Financial: No opinion


Metro A Coffeehouse: No


Wicked Wasabi: No


Flowers Xpress: Undecided


United Loan & Estate Jewelry: No


Cloud Nine Natural: No


Garden City Organics: No


T-Boys PoBoys: No


Art on Broad Inc.: No


The Book Tavern: No


Midtown Threds: No


Modish Salon and Spa: No


Gallery on the Row: Undecided


Our Shop: No


Whitehouse Antiques: No


New York Hi Styles: No


Zimmerman Gallery: No


New Moon Cafe: No

BETWEEN 11TH AND 12TH STREETS


Americana Tattoo: Undecided


Jimmy Williams Signs: No


The Broad Street Bazaar: No


Shoppe 31:30: No


Halo Salon and Spa: No


Johannsen Sporting Goods: No


1102 Downtown Bar & Grill: No


Vintage Oollee: No


Eldvets Treasures: No


The Window Gallery: No


ShoAne Design Studio: No


La Dolce Vita Salon: No


Colonial Finance: No


Silver City: No


Mellow Mushroom: No

BETWEEN 12TH AND 13TH STREETS


Sunshine Bakery: No opinion


Mastercare Car Service: No


Pizza Joint: No


Digital Blueprint: No


Joe's Crab Shack: No


Cali Nails: No


Augusta Cash Advance: No


JLA Engineers, Designers and Consultant: No


Whitehead Heating & Air: No


Critical Solutions Medical Staffing: No


Broad Street Market: No


Capitol City Bank: No opinion


Capps Insurance Agency: No


Merry's Trash and Treasure: Undecided


International Uniform: Yes


The Marketplace Antiques: No

SIDE STREETS THAT WOULD ALSO GET METERS


Frameworks at Tire City: No


Dazzling Car Care: Undecided


Furman Jewelry: No


Cobb's Tax & Financial Services: No



-- Compiled by Staff Writers Gracie Shepherd, LaTina Emerson and Tim Rausch

Comments (28) Add comment
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Brad Owens
5669
Points
Brad Owens 01/10/10 - 05:05 am
0
0
"The authority is going to

"The authority is going to make a block-by-block study of off-Broad Street parking in an effort to find places for residents and workers" I wonder how much they intend on spending on THAT study?

Brad Owens
5669
Points
Brad Owens 01/10/10 - 05:11 am
0
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Development authority

Development authority Executive Director Margaret Woodard sees a discrepancy in the argument of opponents. "They think it is OK to take up those spaces with residents and their own employees and then not have any place for the consumer to park," she said...RIIIIIIIIGHT! It is ALL the small business owners fault that this idiotic plan is roundly, if not completely, called a mistake. Look Maggie, these people you are blaming for the VERY public failyure of this stupid idea are the ones that are the reason YOU have a job. The small business people who rolled the dice in the downtown are the ones who are the reason we even HAVE traffic downtown again. And I noticed one thing for sure, all the small indie owners marked 'NON' to this idea. I would say that you all need to focus on getting that TEE Center parking deck built and leave business to the business owners. Please note that her HUGE check come no matter if she produces results or not, and she makes more than the mayor does. Now you explain that will you?

HughDonnet
0
Points
HughDonnet 01/10/10 - 05:29 am
0
0
I still maintain that there

I still maintain that there is a spot in the Obama (PBUH) administration for her. "Parking meter Czar" maybe.

DAMY46
0
Points
DAMY46 01/10/10 - 06:22 am
0
0
Downtown Augusta don't need

Downtown Augusta don't need parking meters. It needs a theme....But, how much would that study cost the taxpayers? Ms. Woodard needs to go..She can take the rest of them with her.

LEO
0
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LEO 01/10/10 - 08:59 am
0
0
I've said it many times, and

I've said it many times, and I'll say it again: Get local government out of controlling the fate of business downtown! Leave it to those who have ventured money to make it better. Or better yet, let the BIDs decide how they're going to bring in more shoppers... isn't that ultimately what their purpose is? Maybe this issue should come to a referendum, since it appears Margaret Woodard is on the road to a unilateral decision.

Junket831
2
Points
Junket831 01/10/10 - 09:54 am
0
0
Clearly something needs to be

Clearly something needs to be done, but I'm not sure parking meters are called for - yet. Once the Tee Center gets rolling this discussion may be needed again. Until then, just enforce the existing parking rules. The amount of money wasted on studies could have been used to easily hire a few individuals to cruise Broad Street and hand out tickets. Once you start consistent enforcement residents and employees will be looking for alternatives, which some enterprising small businesses will gladly provide as a reasonable alternative.

corgimom
55846
Points
corgimom 01/10/10 - 09:55 am
0
0
"The authority is going to

"The authority is going to make a block-by-block study of off-Broad Street parking in an effort to find places for residents and workers" This is crap. Pure, unadulaterated crap. They need to study it now? Where did they think these people would park when they came up with this brilliant (MUCHO SARCASM) idea?
And taxpayers have to PAY for this nonsense?

thewiz0oz
9
Points
thewiz0oz 01/10/10 - 10:27 am
0
0
Dee Bruker was quoted as

Dee Bruker was quoted as saying "If we had the high-end retail shops and the foot traffic like they have on King Street in Charleston (S.C.), I would support parking meters ..., hopefully, one day Broad Street will have a Starbucks and a Lacoste and a Williams-Sonoma and a Talbots." I agree. However, to attract these type investors to occupy buildings that are now empty we need a progressive parking plan to insure them that shopper's spending money can get to them. Increased traffic draws additional businesses. While we are discussing what to do about parking meters we need to address long-term needs. Parking decks take years to get approved and built & we need to develop off-street safe & convenient parking for residents and Downtown employees.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 01/10/10 - 10:49 am
0
0
I wonder if most of the

I wonder if most of the commissioners have even thought of the actual cost for this project? First you have to tear up 1000 parking spaces in streets that must be closed to do the work. The spaces will have to be mostly dug by hand and the curbing will all have to be hand cut for the wiring. Then you have to bury the mag pick-ups, then you have to install the meters on the sidewalk, then you have to re-pave the space, twice to account for settling. If a typical space is 20 foot x 10 foot that means we have to pave an area of 200,000 square foot, or better put a runway at daniel field. I am sure the actual work is going to close many businesses down because you cannot (insurance and safety concerns) have pedestrians walking thru major construction and the trucks will need the area for equipment and supplys. Just remember what happened when we built the RCBOE downtown and what a mess it was.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 01/10/10 - 10:57 am
0
0
Now if you think a plan to

Now if you think a plan to install 1000 meters for a million dollars is sound, you need to run for commission. The cost to install will double or triple that cost. Now, the question is, we just got rid of someone who was making the same insane type of suggestions and we called it inefficiency, how much longer are we going to put up with the DDA? I would like to determine what the executive directors responsibilities are, but unfortunately the position isn't recognized by the Georgia law allowing citys to establish DDAs, nor does our city code recognize more than 8 appointed members. Maybe it is time for a change of leadership on that foundering ship.

DAMY46
0
Points
DAMY46 01/10/10 - 11:17 am
0
0
What is the annual budget of

What is the annual budget of the DDA?...Where are they spending the money?----Studies?

cleanup
0
Points
cleanup 01/10/10 - 11:18 am
0
0
What about the 2000 people

What about the 2000 people who have joined the Facebook group, Keep Parking Meters Out of Downtown Augusta. Ms. Woodward, will you include these people in your "study." Ms. Woodward, retire or be run out. You are obviously unethical and greedy.
http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/group.php?v=wall&ref=search&gid=24502...

DAMY46
0
Points
DAMY46 01/10/10 - 11:28 am
0
0
They pay Ms. Woodward

They pay Ms. Woodward what?..About $80k a year..To do what?--Conduct another study?..The DDA is a joke.

crackertroy
540
Points
crackertroy 01/10/10 - 12:34 pm
0
0
What happened to wiz0oz on
Unpublished

What happened to wiz0oz on these threads? ....unbelievable, not one "yes" on the survey. Fascinating.

ionlyknow
0
Points
ionlyknow 01/10/10 - 12:48 pm
0
0
The city is not going to

The city is not going to listen to anyone, all they see is dollar signs.

thewiz0oz
9
Points
thewiz0oz 01/10/10 - 01:19 pm
0
0
The big cost to Downtown

The big cost to Downtown will be if we don't manage aprking well in the future. We will not get he high-end retail shops and the foot traffic into Downtown if potential occupants of currently shuttled buildings are not opened for business. No one will invest in these type destinations if their customers can't get to them. We need a well thought out comprehensive plan to manage our parking resources including safe & convenient parking for residents & employees.

LEO
0
Points
LEO 01/10/10 - 01:44 pm
0
0
I would not even say that

I would not even say that parking is high on the priority list, as far as things that need to be fixed downtown. How about improving security? Use part of the DDA budget to hire special duty deputies to specifically patrol the Broad/Reynolds Sts. corridor. How about repairing the sidewalks, or the Riverwalk? Or how about holding some of the property owners accountable for beautifying facades? I would love to ask Ms. Woodard what delusion she is under if she feels that the next step in making downtown Augusta a progressive and exciting destination is to impose what amounts to a tax on the very people they are trying to attract?

coco rubio
67
Points
coco rubio 01/10/10 - 01:51 pm
0
0
downtown residents &

downtown residents & employees are being treated like second class citizens by the DDA.......& this is wrong.....and the idea that we won't get a "starbucks" downtown because we don't have parking meters is absurd......i thought the DDA was set up to support & promote downtown......obviously this is not happening........when the majority of downtown businesses are against the idea of parking meters.......shouldn't the DDA support them instead of the out of town parking meter company trying to get paid? downtown augusta has seen a slow but steady increase in business and foot traffic over the last 10 years...... let's see this continue to happen......and please, please, please, let's use the existing parking decks (at the marriott)....and the new one (at the TEE center) before we even consider parking meters on broad street......and hey.....what about walking a little? isn't foot traffic one of the things we should encourage in downtown augusta? happy new year!!!

littleguy
2
Points
littleguy 01/10/10 - 03:10 pm
0
0
top ten reasons to stay in

top ten reasons to stay in augusta cartoon: http://dividedcity.us/default.aspx

dhsteele
0
Points
dhsteele 01/10/10 - 03:48 pm
0
0
The argument about parking

The argument about parking has been going on for at least thirty years. Our business located on Broad Street after we were assurred that we had parking for employees and customers. To locate here without considering parking would be foolish. Despite the sky is falling fears of some over the last 25 years there is still plenty of parking available.

BAMABOY
20
Points
BAMABOY 01/10/10 - 03:56 pm
0
0
One would think you would

One would think you would want to redo the sidewalks, curbs, streets and lighting before putting in parking meters. Lets not put new meters on old wornout sidewalks. Starbucks is already downtown in the Marriott if anyone bothered to look. What is so bad about supporting a locally owned coffee shoppe. High end retail will not locate in downtown. They have left downtown Athens and Columbus. Also, there is not a parking space problem downtown, just a management problem. Parking meters alone will not help that situation. By the way, if they did put in meters, how much of a salary bump in Ms. Woodard going to get.

FallingLeaves
31
Points
FallingLeaves 01/10/10 - 05:45 pm
0
0
There is no way I'm feeding a

There is no way I'm feeding a parking meter. I'll shop somewhere else.

wpaulson3
14
Points
wpaulson3 01/10/10 - 06:46 pm
0
0
As a frequent shopper

As a frequent shopper downtown, I can tell you that if I have to start dealing with parking meters, then I will spend less time and money downtown. Follow Kay White's advice.

thewiz0oz
9
Points
thewiz0oz 01/10/10 - 07:56 pm
0
0
One reason I joined the

One reason I joined the debate here on the Chronicle blogs is to get constructive criticisms on ways to improve Downtown Augusta. I have agreed to serve as a volunteer co-chair for the implementation of the City Core part of the 2009 Master Plan. The committee has no power or budget & depends on the volunteer of committed individuals. The plan is based on a 20 - 25 year initiative but short-term goals as well as long term objectives are possible. Short-term could be initiating a long-term parking plan with things that could be done immediately, the issues of cleanliness, safety, the homeless in the streets, and empty store-fronts. I didn't say immediate solutions but a short-term impact. Long-term could be building a new Performing Arts facility. This process is part of the City approved Master Plan and we would have a united voice when addressing elected officials and those with resources. The objective of this effort is to not duplicate other programs going on but to support on-going efforts focused on the common needs of the community. This committee is one of seven addressing different parts of our community. If interested in participating, contact me at Julian@osbon.net.

StillaGOP
0
Points
StillaGOP 01/10/10 - 10:48 pm
0
0
I agree with JRS...I will not

I agree with JRS...I will not shop downtown if I have to pay to park. Way too many other places to shop!

just a comment or two
0
Points
just a comment or two 01/10/10 - 10:49 pm
0
0
Meters are fine. Everyone

Meters are fine. Everyone will still shop downtown because what you come down town for is not what is available to you elsewhere.

El Guapo
0
Points
El Guapo 01/11/10 - 01:10 am
0
0
Methinks Mr. Osbon has a

Methinks Mr. Osbon has a financial stake in the Meter solution.

FallingLeaves
31
Points
FallingLeaves 01/11/10 - 02:35 pm
0
0
Maybe it's not available

Maybe it's not available elsewhere, but I'm not going to know that am I? Because I won't be coming down here to check it out, if I have to feed parking meters to look and see what is available.

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