Downtown Aiken issues get focus

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AIKEN - City officials today will try to get a handle on four issues that have plagued the downtown area for at least a year.

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Cars line Laurens Street in downtown Aiken. The city held a study last year to examine parking problems.  Annette M. Drowlette/Staff
Annette M. Drowlette/Staff
Cars line Laurens Street in downtown Aiken. The city held a study last year to examine parking problems.

In a special meeting, the city council will discuss parking, signage, the influx of publication boxes in downtown Aiken and sidewalk sales.

"We just need to get direction on what way to go," City Manager Roger LeDuc said.

All of the topics have come up at previous council meetings. Though work on some of the problems is under way, none of the issues has been resolved.

The city conducted a study last summer to examine actual and perceived parking problems downtown. Several recommendations resulted from that study, such as a two-hour parking limit on certain streets during certain hours, adding on-street parking by converting parallel spots to angled spaces and redesigning off-street lots.

Other strategies included shared parking with churches and businesses, education and promotion of parking solutions to the public and enforcement of any new parking rules.

In addition, the Aiken Downtown Development Association has formed a parking advisory committee, said Carla Cloud, the group's executive director.

The city has hired a design group to develop a sign system to help tourists find their way around Aiken.

The council also has had several discussions about limiting the increasing number of distribution boxes for paid and complimentary publications on city streets.

A year ago, the council passed a first reading of an ordinance to permit sidewalk sales three times a year. At that time, however, the downtown development association requested the ordinance be amended to allow six sidewalk sales a year.

Ms. Cloud said city officials and downtown merchants have developed a public-private partnership to benefit Aiken.

"It's nice when we can come together as a community because part of what people love about Aiken is the ambiance and the look of downtown," she said.

Reach Betsy Gilliland at (803) 648-1395, ext. 113, or betsy.gilliland@augustachronicle.com.

WHAT'S NEXT

Today at 5 p.m., Aiken Municipal Building, 214 Park Ave. S.W. Issues: Parking, signage, publication boxes and sidewalk sales

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GotCha
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GotCha 03/19/07 - 02:18 pm
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Aiken surely doesn't need to

Aiken surely doesn't need to start getting too "ticky" about limiting the time patrons can park, sidewalk sales, etc. Get Real. It's not like their over run with business. Aiken's nice and all, but they better be discussing how to keep it simple, real, and inviting so we will want to continue to drive over and shop without the hassel.

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