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Where to Park?
No One Knows

By Jeanne Sager
JEFFERSONVILLE — September 3, 2004 – The aching backs of Jeffersonville’s hard-working business owners might just be growing pains.
The village’s 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 Peck’s Markets.
Since the grocery store opened more than 10 years ago, they’ve 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 Jeff’s 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 Matson’s Deli, she was having a hard time getting into her usual spot.
With no other open spaces, Brucher began parking in the Peck’s 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 Dick’s Auto Sales.
He’d been called in to tow her car, and he didn’t 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 [Peck’s General Manager] Lee [Reimer] in the parking lot checking cars and in the grocery store,” she said. “If he wasn’t happy with me parking there, he should have said something.”
Reimer said Peck’s policy has been the same since “day one.”
“Any customer has two-hour parking in our lot,” he said. “I think that’s 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 wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
That’s 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 village’s largest employers, that’s 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 it’s 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 aren’t business people parking there,” she said. “And it’s not even people in town for breakfast – the people who eat at Ted’s are probably in the Peck’s 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.
Brucher concurred.
“Town is just getting busier,” she said. “All the stores are full – it’s wonderful, we’re very lucky.”
But with growth comes a need for more parking, Brucher said.
“People have come in and said they couldn’t find a spot on the street,” she said. “They often park in Peck’s lot; they go to Peck’s, 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.
She’s not talking about Peck’s – she means the village limits too.
“To be honest with you, my customers are very uncomfortable worrying they’re going to be towed,” she said. “Sometimes our services take more than two hours; you’re 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 Eddie’s Famous Foods, in the lot where the Three Chocolateers and the Starving Artist are located.
But Brucher’s co-worker Cyndi Belle said that doesn’t work for everyone.
“How do you tell a customer who’s 82 and can’t 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, she’s 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 they’re done with work, which means she’s leaving her job after dark.
She’s nervous walking back into the dark alleyways to get to her car, loaded with bags – she’s a Peck’s shopper, she said, and she’s often got her groceries in tow when she’s leaving to go home.
In the past, she’s looked to Peck’s as an answer because they have the biggest lot in town, and because she’s always been a loyal Peck’s shopper.
“I think Jeffersonville needs Peck’s parking lot as much as Peck’s needs Jeffersonville,” she remarked.
Whatever happens, Brucher said, something has to be done by someone.
And that’s the word up and down Main Street.
Vivian Hung opened Global Home on the main drag just a few weeks ago, and she’s already feeling the parking crunch.
“It’s 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 Eddie’s) for keeping their lot open, but she’s still got problems. She’s even wondered if the company in town shooting a TV show would consider doing a parking project to help.
She’d 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 can’t survive on what they’ve got right now.”
Village Mayor Ed Justus said this is something that was looked at before he was elected, and something that’s 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 aren’t new – signs were just “reposted” this summer because they’d 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 isn’t each other,” she said. “It’s Wal-Mart, it’s Wallkill . . . we need to get over this idea that we’re competing against each other.”
It might take more than a committee, she added.
“We need someone who doesn’t have an axe to grind,” Handler said. “It comes back to having a planner – if some unassociated person could get everyone together, they couldn’t say no.”

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