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Downtown Parking discussed at latest City Commission meeting 
Tuesday, June 12, 2018- 7:31 a.m.
HOMETOWN HEADLINES
 
Businessman Ira Levy speaks to the commission following his polling downtown property owners and business owners about the downtown parking debate. He wonders about ‘micommunication’ between downtown businesses and Downtown Development Association. Levy then reads the eight points on the petition signed by downtown businesses (see below).
 
The petition reads as follows:
 
We, the undersigned business owners and property owners, are in agreement for the following changes for downtown parking:
  • New signage directing people to the parking decks.
  • Signage showing available parking spaces and on which floor.
  • Brighter lighting in decks, in addition to elevator and daily maintenance and safety patrols.
  • Two-hour parking limit per space on Broad Street and OTR parking zones.
  • Purchase mobile tag reader.
  • No kiosk purchased or installed until a two-year data study is reviewed and discussed.
  • Free deck parking.
  • Tells commission they’ve signed up approximately 90 percent of the business owners and 90 percent of the property owners; asks them to reconsider the last vote.
 
Then reads a letter from Ballard Betz, chair of the DDA, explaining why he opposed the parking plan during the May DDA meeting. The letter supports much of what Levy outlined in the petition. Among Betz’s points: getting the license reader to enhancement enforcement; more signage; and a year-long delay in purchasing any kiosks.
 
Levy asked the commission to consider it all before moving forward. He also closes, asking about whether a fee will be charged — and to whom — for using the kiosk.
 
Jerry Rucker talks about making a living on Broad Street over the years and witnessing the removal of the first set of parking meters. He details the changes on Broad Street, first because of the Riverbend Mall.
 
The reason the meters were “taken up” was because of competition of the mall, Rucker says.
 
He commends the changes to downtown, including Town Green. But he also wonders what meters would mean to the annual Christmas parade and those who park early. Calls the parking decks “nasty, dirty” and that people are not going to use them. Says Rome has a “lazy problem” as they want to park near where they’re doing business — a fact that stretches back 60 years.
 
Rucker also says an hour for lunch (first hour free with meters) won’t work as people don’t dine in an hour.
 
He reiterates how one parking place has yet to be added to downtown Rome.
 
Mayor Jamie Doss says the next big step will be amending the downtown ordinances, a two-step process. It will be a “very methodical, slow process.”
 
Doss says not another step will be taken “until we get the last one right.” Says there was a feeling after the May vote that there were two different groups. He wants “one Rome family” working out the issue.
 
Commissioner Craig McDaniel speaks up. Says some believe the May vote meant kiosks were on the way. McDaniel says only a plan was approved; kiosks would need to be part of a future ordinance. Says in all the feedback he’s received, “not one” was in favor of the plan approved in May. He wants all the signage up, that the decks are secure and clean and well-lit. He says “we have to listen first and foremost to the people who live here.” Says a “very small” part of Broad Street supports the plan.
 
McDaniel says he’d put it all in a motion if needed; Doss asked him to hold off for now.
 
Doss asks for a quick recess as the parking discussion ends.