Columbus to eliminate parking on Peak Street

Published 3:43 pm Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Discussions concerning the parking spaces began a couple of months ago when complaints arose about a business parking a large truck there overnight. The business moved the large truck, but discussions continued on other safety concerns about the spaces.

The vote to eliminate all 10 parking spaces passed last week 3-1 with councilman Michael Gage voting against eliminating all parking spaces there.

Gage said he&squo;d like to start by eliminating only the two spots that posed the greatest safety hazard, the one closest to Mills Street and the one closest to Ward Street.

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Some other council members disagreed and said the entire strip of parking spaces is dangerous.

Councilman Richard Hall made the motion to eliminate all spaces and said his main concern is someone getting &dquo;plowed&dquo; coming around the curve from Mills to Peak Street. He&squo;s mentioned several times that people going to the ATM machine at Bank of America leave their doors open and others turning onto Peak Street are speeding.

&dquo;Being on the council I don&squo;t want any part of someone getting hurt,&dquo; Hall said. &dquo;If someone gets run over, we can&squo;t fix that. If someone gets killed, we can&squo;t fix that. To me, this is an accident waiting to happen.&dquo;

Councilman Ricky McCallister said his concern was to make sure Bank of America was aware the town is eliminating the parking spaces, but others mentioned that the bank has its own parking lot in the rear and customers can use parking in the front of the building on Mills Street.

Gage mentioned council&squo;s concern that there isn&squo;t enough parking downtown, which was discussed at a recent retreat. Gage said council has even discussed the need for the town to purchase land to build a parking lot. He said he hopes the town is not putting itself in a bind by eliminating 10 spaces downtown.

Columbus Town Manager Tim Holloman recently met with the N.C. Department of Transportation to get an opinion on the safety of the spaces and the opinion was that the best solution would be for there to be no parking spaces there. If the town didn&squo;t want to eliminate all spaces, an alternative could be to eliminate all but three spaces, including one handicapped space, but the majority of council said they didn&squo;t want to take any chances and decided to eliminate all spaces.

The town will mark the current spaces with yellow marks prohibiting parking there.

Council also discussed other parking concerns last week, such as employees of businesses taking up customer and visitor parking spaces downtown and Polk County vehicles taking up all parking around the county&39;s offices. Columbus has frequently said it wishes the county would find somewhere else to park its vehicles, transportation vans in particular.

Council agreed to look at options, such as having Isothermal Planning and Development Commission do a parking study similar to the pedestrian study the town had done recently. The town will look at options over the next three months and present them sometime toward the end of the year.