At the Starkville Board of Aldermen meeting on Tuesday evening, the council decided to continue using the paid parking system in the Cotton District. However, the system is suspended for another 30 days starting Wednesday.
After a flurry of backlash and controversy on social media from citizens, visitors and business owners, the council temporarily suspended paid parking through the ParkMobile app from April 24 to May 3.
Council also voted 6-1 to change the town of Prescription code Section 106-391, which states that parking in Starkville “shall be free”. Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver was the only Alderman against the motion.
Carver asked the board and the mayor to step back and think for a year or two, or at least wait out the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s our job as elected officials to represent the constituency as a whole,” Carver said, “not just business owners, but all citizens.”
Carver mentioned the flurry of comments on social media and said he’s also received numerous calls and emails complaining about paid parking. He said these people said they would no longer shop and eat in the cotton district because of the new order.
The owners of Strange Brew Coffeehouse have particularly expressed their dislike of the ordinance. Tweeting countless times to Mayor Lynn Spruill and the thousands of coffee-goers, the owners say paid parking is bad for business.
On April 20, the cafe published a photo on social media of empty paid parallel parking spaces in front of their Midtown location.
“Ghost town… So when can we admit it was a bad idea, take payment off street signs and move on? Asking all downtown businesses,” the caption reads.
Although loud online, Spruill said the owners did not directly speak to him about the issue.
“Of course not, they tweet me,” Spruill said when asked by the reporter.
However, Spruill and the Alderman for Ward 5 Hamp Beatty said they have spoken to several business owners in the Cotton District who are in favor and have requested paid parking. Spruill said he spoke to the owners of Tabor Construction and Development, Bin 612, Two Brothers Smoked Meats, Bulldog Burger Company and Cotton District Rental Properties, and they all approved of the order.
Carver said other business owners told him it was unfair that some areas of the city had paid parking while others did not.
Similarly, Starkville resident Walter Okhuysen voiced his concerns about fair treatment during the citizens’ comments section of the meeting.
“If we’re going to implement it in one part of the city, we should implement it in all parts of the city…including residences,” Okhuysen said. “But that would be very unpopular, I’m afraid, but it would be fair.”
Another problem associated with the ordinance is the lack of clearly marked and visible signage for these pay locations. Not all parking spaces have a nearby sign so some people were unaware of the change. Spruill said she was ordering larger panels on Wednesday morning.
Additionally, many citizens and visitors said they were unaware of the payment requirement and were therefore ticketed. Spruill took the blame and said she should have publicized the new rule better.
The mayor said the city will raise awareness in a number of ways: ordering larger signs, sending out flyers with utility bills in the mail, using green paint to mark spots, and speaking out more publicly. of the question.
Carver raised concerns about the ParkMobile app, saying it’s inaccessible for those who don’t have a phone or those who don’t want to download an app. Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk clarified that a person can pay to park via the app, a text messaging system or a phone call.
Alderman Beatty said the new system is convenient for the growing town.
“Part of our growing pain is trying to figure out how certain parts of the city allow parking spaces to turn where businesses may have the opportunity for someone to come and park in a parking space facing the business, the Cotton District in particular,” said Beatty, who represents some areas affected by paid parking.
Beatty said he would not approve a motion if it caused business problems. The alderman said other college towns like Oxford, MS, and Auburn, AL, have paid parking, and it’s time for Starkville’s growth to do the same.
Tuesday’s meeting was the second paid parking hearing since the ParkMobile system was implemented in March. A third is scheduled for Tuesday, May 17 at 5:30 p.m. in the Municipal Courtroom at City Hall. Meetings are also broadcast live on the city network The Facebook page.
“This is an opportunity for us to make the changes that were recommended when we reviewed our order,” Spruill said, “and there was conflict or a lack of clarity to make sure everyone understood what which we can and cannot do as it relates to parking.”
Paid parking via the ParkMobile app will resume on June 2.
Dunkin’ Donuts, Corner Market, Ace Hardware are coming to town
Starkville will soon be “running on Dunkin'”. The cafe is set to move into the building that LoanMax Title Loans currently occupies on Highway 12 near Cook Out.
Dunkin’ will have a drive-thru and an indoor seating area. Opening hours are currently unknown.
Dunkin’ isn’t the only new business coming to Starkville. Corner Market and Ace Hardware are moving into the old Vowell’s Marketplace building on Highway 12. There is room for a third retailer, but no additional business was mentioned at the meeting.
The board approved waiver requests for all three companies.
“Thank you very much for doing business in Starkville,” Spruill said after the public hearing. “We appreciate that.”