Tryon considers options to improve parking in town

Published 8:03 pm Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tryon employees have been handed the task of coming up with different options to improve parking downtown, including the possibility of extending or eliminating the current two-hour parking limit.

At its meeting last week Tryon Town Council discussed a variety of parking issues after receiving a request from the Tryon Downtown Development Association (TDDA) to remove some of the 48 parking signs downtown to improve aesthetics.

Town council also discussed how Tryon has been unsuccessful in enforcing the two-hour parking limit, or keeping downtown employees from taking up parking spaces on Trade Street. Council members questioned if the two-hour parking limit is needed or if it should be longer than two hours.

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Council directed town manager Justin Hembree, police chief Jeff Arrowood and public works director Joel Burrell to come up with some options for downtown parking.

Crys Armbrust, Tryons business and tourism development coordinator, made the request last week to remove some of the parking limit signs. The town has 48 signs in a three-block area of downtown. Armbrust said the request is not to abolish two-hour parking downtown, but to reduce the number of signs.

Regarding the time limit, Armbrust said some business owners say customers need more than two hours.&bsp; Mayor Alan Peoples added that hes heard from hairdressers whose customers are often there longer than two hours and are stressed that they need to move their vehicle.

Paula Edwards also spoke during citizen comments and questioned the message Tryon is sending to tourists by having two-hour parking. She said money has been spent on a billboard inviting people to visit downtown Tryon and when they get here the message is, Hey, you can only stay two hours. Edwards said she thinks the signs should be taken down and let people be free to spend time downtown.

Some discussion was also had about requiring downtown business employees to get a parking sticker from town hall and be forced to park off Trade Street.

Doug Arbogast, who will be sworn in as council member next month,&bsp; said he didnt think the sticker idea would be fair to employees when they come downtown for reasons other than work. They would be forced to park off street if they were visiting other stores because of a sticker on their car.

Since 2002, Tryon has issued 401 parking tickets. Officer Theda Rickman told council the collection of those fines is not very good. The fine for a parking ticket is now $10. Peoples said maybe the town has not made parking violations distasteful enough for people to abide by the&bsp; rules. He suggested the town may want to look into higher fines for parking citations.

Tryon has discussed parking issues for a number of years, often citing concerns that employees of downtown businesses are taking up spaces that should go to visitors and patrons of businesses instead.

The police department has been strict at times about issuing parking tickets, but the issue is never alleviated because many employees see the officers marking tires and simply go out and move their car to another space.

Armbrust also mentioned last week the unappealing crosswalk signs in addition to the many parking signs downtown.&bsp; Manager Hembree reported that he’s talked with the N.C. Department of Transportation regarding more attractive signs. Apparently, the state has strict guidelines for signage on state highways such as Trade Street. The town requested to DOT some time ago that downtown crosswalks be more clearly marked and town officials have since heard complaints about the appearance of the signs.

Some signs also have been knocked over, particularly one which is in a parking space. Hembree said he will continue speaking with DOT changing the current signs.