Updated: City Manager Sammy Rich called Wednesday morning’s meeting an “informal” gathering to talk about downtown parking and what’s next. Rich said the meeting included five downtown merchants and property owners (Elaine Abercrombie, Bob Blumberg, Harry Brock, Ira Levy and Jay Shell), as well as Assistant City Manager Patrick Eidson, Becky Smyth, Downtown Parking Manager, and himself.
“After our most recent commission vote, I just wanted to invite some folks here to come in for a poll and talk about the situation and where to go from here. We’re trying to understand why there is a misunderstanding. These were folks that have been very vocal in the past about our parking situation and we just want to get feedback from them,” says Rich.
“It was a very conversational meeting. But we want to find out what downtown merchants are looking to do and want to do about parking. We heard a number of mixed opinions. But we left it that the merchants were going to go back and get more feedback from other merchant and present ideas.”
No decisions or ideas were formally proposed. Rich says a second reading of the proposal to expand free parking to three hours and rollback enforcement time to 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. is still set for the June 10th City Commission meeting at 6:30 p.m. The proposal was put on first reading as introduced by Commissioner Craig McDaniel at the May 20th commission meeting.
Ira Levy says he will be spearheading an effort to put together a proposal of steps or ideas for downtown parking to discuss with merchants and property owners.
“We will do the same thing we did a year ago and write out different proposals or steps. Last year, we had some eight requests. We will then go to the different merchants and property and see if they agree with the proposals and if so, have them sign it. We will then present it to the City Commission. It will then be up to them if they will listen to 99% of the downtown businesses and property owners,” says Levy.
“These will be ideas from those with a vested interest in downtown. You could ask the community and you would get a 1,000 different ideas. Parking is a big issue in every community and we’re just trying to appease the majority of folks.”
Levy says he plans to put the proposal/steps on paper this weekend and discuss with the core group of merchants who met Wednesday (listed above) and have the group go out to all merchants and property owners within a few weeks.
“There is a lot of misinformation out there. We are trying to figure out the best way to get the word out and all be on the same page. We all, both downtown and city officials, want what’s good for the community as a whole. It’s a tough job,” adds Levy.
A group of downtown Rome merchants met with City Manager Sammy Rich and others on Wednesday morning for more than three hours to discuss parking. No decisions were made at the meeting. We are awaiting a call back from Rich with meeting details.
The meeting comes between City Commission meetings for the first and second reads of the new proposal to expand free parking to three hours and rollback enforcement time to 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. A first reading of this proposal was introduced by Commissioner Craig McDaniel at the May 20th meeting. Previous report
A second reading of the proposal is scheduled for the next City Commission meeting on June 10 at 6:30 p.m. (barring a called meeting). Rich did instruct city staff to enforce the May 20th vote effective immediately.