City hosts meeting on handicapped spaces

Liz Marino/Douglas County Sentinel Douglasville officials met with downtown business owners Tuesday morning to find solutions to parking problems along Broad Street. From left, City Building Official Mike Mettler, Planning Director Michelle Wright, Douglasville Police Lt. Brad Loudermilk, Maintenance and Sanitation Director Greg Roberts, Jeff Merback, owner of Fabiano's, Josh Thurman, general manager of Gumbeaux's and John (Rick) Aloisi, owner of Cabin Fever Roasters.

A number of Douglasville’s city department heads and downtown business owners may have come up with a solution to stop delivery trucks from blocking handicapped parking spots along Broad Street.

The downtown business owners — primarily made up of downtown restaurant owners and managers — along with city officials, came to a consensus Tuesday to recommend a designated loading/unloading time restrictive parking zone that would free-up handicapped parking spaces along Broad Street.

The issue came about in late November to early December, said Patrice Williams, director of the Douglasville Downtown Development Authority, when citizens brought to the city’s attention containers in front of the Welcome Center with the roll-offs being placed in the handicapped spaces, along with contractors parking in the handicapped spaces.

“Then people began taking notice of the restaurant vendors also parking in the handicapped spaces along (Highway) 78, using the handicapped spaces to unload during the day,” Williams said.

Williams said the meeting was held with city business owners “to look at options to eliminate this issue.”

“We’re working with downtown businesses in the spirit of collaboration,” Williams said, “and we want them to thrive.”

She said they would take the recommendations to the city manager and to the downtown district’s city council member and draft a resolution to present to the downtown businesses before going before the city council to make it official.

The suggestion was made to take a clearly marked block of parking spaces that would be designated as a loading zone between a period of time during early morning hours.

Greg Roberts, maintenance and sanitation director for the city, told the group, “We want guidance from business owners because it does affect you guys. The one thing we can agree on is no one intentionally created an issue for anyone.”

Roberts said a realistic time frame is three months, if they are able to get it onto the city council’s agenda before then.

“A designated parking for deliveries needs to happen,” said Gumbeaux’s general manager Josh Thurman. “Having a place that deliveries could always be would be desirable.”

He admitted that Gumbeaux’s might be the main offender of the delivery truck problem. The general manager said he tries to have deliveries in between 6:30 and 8:30 a.m., but that some times they have four trucks at a time.

Thurman said, “The semi’s are usually done by 11 a.m., but the box trucks come in all day and we really can’t do anything about that.”

He did say that he felt a 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. block as a designated loading area would alleviate some of the problem.

City Planning Director Michelle Wright said, “You can’t blame them — they have to park somewhere.” She did say she liked the idea of the loading/unloading area only.

Roberts said there are 111 parking spaces between Courthouse Square West and Campbellton Street. There are 11 handicapped spaces, but some, he said, may not be up to code.

“We need to see whether some have to be van accessible,” he said. “We want to make sure we have enough handicapped spaces for the number of spaces we have.”

Roberts asked if there is an issue with employees at Broad Street business that keeps them from parking in the city parking deck.

Jeff Merback, owner of Fabiano’s, said his employees are supposed to park in the parking deck. Thurman said he has a strict rule that no Gumbeaux’s employees park on Broad Street.

Roberts said the city doesn’t want to use enforcement, but just wants people “to do what’s right. We really don’t want to tow people.”

Due to the Highway 92 relocation project, some parking spaces may be eliminated along Broad Street, but the good news is that there will be less than originally thought.

According to Roberts, the new railroad crossing will be lined up with Fabiano’s 120 feet to the west.

“There will be spaces lost,” he said, “but plans are to minimize this as much as possible.”

 

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