Proposal heard on plan to reduce Broad Street parking issues

Rashad Milligan/Douglas County Sentinel

City officials have proposed two locations to load and unload on Broad Street, using only non-handicapped parking spaces from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. The loading zones would take up seven spaces, a number that a majority of the businesses on Broad Street were in favor of, according to Maintenance & Sanitation Director Greg Roberts. One loading area will be in the area of Fabiano's Pizzeria and Gumbeaux's Cajun Cafe. The other loading area will be just east of the handicapped spaces by Irish Bred Pub and toward Western Auto.

The city of Douglasville has come up with a proposed plan to reduce parking issues on Broad Street. The plan was presented to the Douglasville City Council at Monday's meeting.

Maintenance & Sanitation Director Greg Roberts, Downtown Services Manager Patrice Williams, and Building Official Mike Mettler have proposed two locations to load and unload on Broad Street, using only non-handicapped parking spaces from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m.

The loading zones would take up seven spaces, a number that a majority of the businesses on Broad Street are in favor of, according to Roberts. Excluding the downtown parking deck, there are approximately 230 non-handicapped parking spaces and 11 handicapped spaces from Courthouse Square West to Campbellton Street.

One loading area would be in the area of Fabiano's Pizzeria and Gumbeaux's Cajun Cafe. The other loading area would be just east of the handicapped spaces by Irish Bred Pub and toward Western Auto. The spaces in front of the Western Auto would block the business, Roberts said. He said Vine Cafe and Market and Irish Bred Pub are fine with having a loading area in front of their businesses.

"Verbally they committed for the most part, but they are going to work with their delivery services to say 'Hey. You can only make deliveries in Douglasville during this time frame,'" Roberts said.

It usually takes trucks half an hour to load and unload.

"If we were to have designated parking where the truck wasn't looking for a spot to fit, it'd probably make it a lot quicker," Roberts said. "But I don't have a remedy for four trucks showing up at the same time."

The issue of illegal handicapped parking came about late last year when WSB-TV filmed a truck illegally parked outside of a business before the city's Christmas parade. Douglasville resident and chapter leader for the Spinal Association in Georgia Kim Harrison then spoke to the city council about the problems with illegal parkers. Law enforcement officials told her that handicapped parking wasn't as high of a safety priority compared to other illegal activity, which she disagreed with.

"It is a safety issue to someone who's sitting out in the heat in August for over 45 minutes waiting for someone to move their car because they're illegally parked and I can't get in my car," Harrison said to the council. "They didn't show it on the news, but it takes a 6-to-8-foot clearance to get in my car. I do not sweat or perspire with the spinal cord injury, so when I get overheated, it causes me to almost go into like a stroke."

Roberts said he believes the issue of illegal parking downtown intensified once there was no longer a constant downtown policing presence at the Welcome Center, which is currently being renovated.

The number of parking spaces may once again be affected by the Georgia Department of Transportation's Highway 92 relocation project; some parking spaces along Broad Street are projected to be eliminated as part of the Highway 92 project. Roberts said the loading and unloading plan would be adjusted as necessary after the Highway 92 project is complete.

Encouraging more business owners and employees to park in the parking deck -- which has 293 spaces -- to allow more room for customers was a proposal by many city officials as well.

The loading zones would be in front of the businesses on Broad Street regardless of what changes are made to the plan because Church Street was not built for tractor-trailer traffic, Roberts said.

Roberts said the discussion at Monday's meeting was "intended to update the council as to our findings related to the parking issues."

"At this time we will have additional conversation at the staff level and also our downtown business/property owners for any additional input or recommendations that they might have," he said. "I expect this to be discussed again within the next six weeks."

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