Columbus to address parking concerns

Published 6:43 pm Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cars fill spots on Mills Street in downtown Columbus. Some business owners in the area have said there is not enough parking for their customers. (photo by Leah Justice)

Signs limiting parking time could reappear
The Town of Columbus is taking steps to address limited parking downtown for its businesses.
Columbus Town Council met Thursday, Oct. 20 and heard from Calvert’s Restaurant owner Randall Calvert who asked the town to help with no parking on his block for customers.
The town has battled the parking issue for years with some business owners saying other business employees park in prime spaces all day. The Town of Tryon has discussed the same concerns about employees taking up merchant spaces.
Columbus had asked business owners to use the spaces in front of Stearns, which Calvert said worked for a while, but employees are now back in the same spots.
“It’s kind of choking not only my business, but other businesses,” Calvert said. “It seems like it’s getting further and further out of hand.”
Columbus Mayor Eric McIntyre said the town does have on the books (in its ordinances) a schedule for limited parking. Columbus used to have 2-hour parking signs, but when the state improved the sidewalks, the signs were taken down and never put back.
“I kind of like the idea of limiting (parking) from 9 to 5 or 10 to 5,” McIntyre said. “It would be nice to have something in there for the residents to have parking. We’ve had the same business owner come to us twice and several others came to a meeting.”
McIntyre also said there’s virtually no land for a parking lot in the downtown area, so council needs to look at what is the best scenario for the town’s businesses.
Other council members seemed to like the idea of bringing back the 2-hour parking signs and limited it to daytime hours to allow residents who live downtown to park there. A suggestion was also made that during the day, residents could use the parking in front of Stearns, with the suggestion that the town could mark some of those spaces specifically for residents.
Councilman Michael Gage expressed concern over the costs and time to the police department for enforcing 2-hour parking.
Council agreed to have the planning board work on parking regulations and for town manager Jonathan Kanipe to speak with business owners. The town plans to continue discussions regarding parking options during its Nov. 17 meeting.

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