By Jeanne Sager
JEFFERSONVILLE September 3, 2004 The aching backs of Jeffersonvilles hard-working business owners might just be growing pains.
The villages Main Street boasts just one empty storefront, but all this success has created a new problem.
Where are people supposed to park?
The village owns slots up and down Main Street, but each is posted with a two-hour maximum sign that was installed earlier this summer.
And the wide open lot in the center of town with posted two-hour signs is a private facility owned and maintained by Pecks Markets.
Since the grocery store opened more than 10 years ago, theyve had a policy of limiting parking, but this summer enforcement has been increased signs have been left on cars violating the limit, and one was towed a few weeks ago.
That towing, coupled with some complaints to the village board earlier this summer, has Jeffersonville rumbling about parking problems.
Carol Brucher, a Callicoon resident who has maintained a manicure business on Jeffs Main Street for more than a decade, has always parked on the street across from her shop.
But when construction started on the facade of the new Matsons Deli, she was having a hard time getting into her usual spot.
With no other open spaces, Brucher began parking in the Pecks lot, making sure to always choose a slot near Main Street to allow grocery store customers to use those spots closest to the front door.
On Wednesday, Aug. 11, she got a call midday from Joey Herbert at Dicks Auto Sales.
Hed been called in to tow her car, and he didnt want her to come out of work that evening and find herself stranded, imagining her vehicle had been stolen.
Brucher was frustrated, to say the least.
I have seen [Pecks General Manager] Lee [Reimer] in the parking lot checking cars and in the grocery store, she said. If he wasnt happy with me parking there, he should have said something.
Reimer said Pecks policy has been the same since day one.
Any customer has two-hour parking in our lot, he said. I think thats more than fair.
But, he stressed, the lot is for customers customers who shop in any village business within a two-hour time frame not other businesses.
Business owners have to provide parking for their employees, Reimer said.
We made a major investment, he added. We had to buy a building and knock it down to provide our parking if everyone else did that, we wouldnt be having this conversation.
Thats something the First National Bank of Jeffersonville did to provide employee parking they razed a building and now there are signs that limit their lot to their staff. As one of the villages largest employers, thats what had to be done.
But employee parking seems to be the big problem in the village.
Roberta Handler owns the Good Earth, a health food store catty-cornered from Brucher at Specially U.
Her landlord provides a small lot at the rear of the building, but its often filled with the cars of the residents who live in the apartments above her store. And exiting the lot after her shop closes at 6 p.m. is treacherous at best.
The cars parked along Main Street on either side of the driveway block all visibility, and vehicles rarely follow the 30 mph markers on the main drag Handler said she just cannot park back there.
But when she comes to town at 9 a..m., she already finds every spot on the street filled and she has nowhere to go.
These arent business people parking there, she said. And its not even people in town for breakfast the people who eat at Teds are probably in the Pecks lot.
She said parking has gotten worse with the new deli and Figures, the new gym in town, and even worse with more apartments rented out in town.
Town is just getting busier, she said. All the stores are full its wonderful, were very lucky.
But with growth comes a need for more parking, Brucher said.
People have come in and said they couldnt find a spot on the street, she said. They often park in Pecks lot; they go to Pecks, they go to the pharmacy, they come here.
But the two-hour limits up and down the street have made it hard on people, Brucher said.
Shes not talking about Pecks she means the village limits too.
To be honest with you, my customers are very uncomfortable worrying theyre going to be towed, she said. Sometimes our services take more than two hours; youre coming to a beauty parlor to relax and be pampered.
Instead, her customers are on edge during their appointments, and they rush out instead of sitting to chat with the other women there for a pedicure and a trim.
There is free parking across from the old Eddies Famous Foods, in the lot where the Three Chocolateers and the Starving Artist are located.
But Bruchers co-worker Cyndi Belle said that doesnt work for everyone.
How do you tell a customer whos 82 and cant get up that step to go park down by the Chocolateers? Belle asked.
Since Brucher was towed, Belle has been attempting to park in the limited parking area behind the stores, accessible off Jefferson Street.
So far, shes gotten two flat tires parking there she has no evidence of teenage mischief, but she said she suspects something must have happened.
Brucher has tried it too. But she gets out of work late some evenings customers often come in after theyre done with work, which means shes leaving her job after dark.
Shes nervous walking back into the dark alleyways to get to her car, loaded with bags shes a Pecks shopper, she said, and shes often got her groceries in tow when shes leaving to go home.
In the past, shes looked to Pecks as an answer because they have the biggest lot in town, and because shes always been a loyal Pecks shopper.
I think Jeffersonville needs Pecks parking lot as much as Pecks needs Jeffersonville, she remarked.
Whatever happens, Brucher said, something has to be done by someone.
And thats the word up and down Main Street.
Vivian Hung opened Global Home on the main drag just a few weeks ago, and shes already feeling the parking crunch.
Its very difficult to find parking, she said. I think it would be great to have a municipal lot.
Three Chocolateers owner Kris Schluer praised her landlords (owners of the former Eddies) for keeping their lot open, but shes still got problems. Shes even wondered if the company in town shooting a TV show would consider doing a parking project to help.
Shed like to see something central in town even if that means the village buying a lot and paving it.
We need more parking, she emphasized.
Even Reimer is on board with that.
The Village of Jeffersonville needs to take a serious look at parking, he said. They cant survive on what theyve got right now.
Village Mayor Ed Justus said this is something that was looked at before he was elected, and something thats going to be revisited.
A committee has been put together to study possible solutions Handler, Kathy Herbert and Jackie Oliver are supposed to report back to the village board with their findings.
He said the two-hour limits on Main Street spots arent new signs were just reposted this summer because theyd been torn down over time.
Parking is a real sticky situation right now, Justus said.
The answer? Hopefully the committee will start the ball rolling, he said.
Handler, who is heading it up, said the key will be cooperation.
Our competition isnt each other, she said. Its Wal-Mart, its Wallkill . . . we need to get over this idea that were competing against each other.
It might take more than a committee, she added.
We need someone who doesnt have an axe to grind, Handler said. It comes back to having a planner if some unassociated person could get everyone together, they couldnt say no.