Diane Peltz – Contributing Writer
In two recent Planning Board meetings the issue of parking on Main Street was addressed. The meeting was open to public comments.
Gwen Taylor, president of the Streets of Franklin Heritage Association and owner of “the Dusty Pallet” stated that she read more than 145 comments concerning parking issues in town on the “Macon Issues” blog. Some of the shop owners are parking on Main Street and she wishes to encourage the merchants to park behind their stores, as there is not enough parking for patrons. Taylor suggested that merchants be allowed to load or unload store merchandise on Main Street, but then move their vehicles to park in the back of the stores. It was stated that Highlands Merchants adhere to this type of parking regulation.
“There simply is not enough parking behind the Attic Shop for visitors to park” stated Taylor. “There is not enough parking on back street.” She also stated that they do not want any timed parking in front of stores. Patrons often visit more than one shop and then stop for lunch, so putting a limit on parking would greatly interfere with their shopping habits.
Vikki Luft, owner of “The Attic,” which is located behind Main Street, said that she would love to see a two-level parking garage somewhere in the town. She agreed with Taylor that there should not be any timed parking in front of Main Street stores. In Highlands merchants are told not to park on Main Street and parked cars are monitored very strictly. Shop owners there abide by this ordinance.
Martha Holbrook, owner of Mossy Rock/Blackberry Market, addressed the racing that takes place on Main Street. She has witnessed cars going 50 – 60 mph in a 20 mph zone. She also brought up the fact that cars are not stopping for pedestrians in the crosswalk.
Next up was Roland Mock, owner of Rockin’ Rollie Pollies restaurant. He stated that there are many large trucks that stick out from the left side pull-in parking spots. He noted that the right side parallel parking can “handle” the larger trucks. Mock also spoke about crosswalks having reflectors and that bulb outs should have colors.
The board mentioned that they can promote awareness of crosswalks through the Watch For Me program, which was implemented this year, in order to develop a “road map” with strategies and a plan of action. Handing out pamphlets instead of a ticket is one way to heighten awareness for drivers. The board mentioned that Main Street is a DOT (Department of Transportation) jurisdiction and any changes would have to go through them.
Richard Miller, co-owner of “Divas on Main” spoke up about the speeding issue. He stated the “no tickets have been issued to speeders. It is rare to find a police officer monitoring Main Street traffic.” He also spoke about the lack of handicapped parking spaces. Aside from the few handicap spaces from Town Hall to Wells Fargo Bank, no other handicap spaces exist past that point. The board thought that they might be able to either add more handicap parking spaces or distribute what already exists to better accommodate those with handicapped parking placards.
There were several additions to Chapter 75 of the Parking Schedule. Some of the parking ordinances which were added to Schedule 1 were, Bidwell Street, having prohibited parking from W. Main Street to Lyle Street, then on the right side from Lyle Street to Harrison Ave. On Macon Avenue, parking is prohibited on the west side of the street from Church Street to W. Main Street. Also, from Schedule 2 there will be limited timed parking in the marked spaces in front of Town Hall for a period of 20 minutes. Schedule 3 added that all vehicles shall be parked within the marked parking spots on Main Street from the top of the hill at the east end thereof, to the top of the hill at the west end.
The board acknowledged all of the concerns stating that they would take everything into consideration to determine what is feasible and what is not. They fully understand the merchants concerns and have not dismissed any of the stated issues. The Planning Board will make recommendations and take these issues to the Town Council for further review.