Jul. 13, 2018

Front Street Parking

Social media has become the newest technological form of classifieds, announcements and communications. Local grievances can be aired and discussed openly. Recently, Jack Woodward, a retired resident of the Georgetown community posed this question: “When is someone going to address the shortage of parking spaces, handicap parking spaces, and wheelchair accessible businesses on front Street?”

I thought about that question for several hours, pondering what, if anything, I could offer to Jack’s thought provoking question. To anyone who lives in Georgetown, you understand what I mean when I say, “thought provoking.”

There’s already a shortage of spaces, but here, as of late, it seems they are no longer available all day long. It used to be parking was only allowed for two hours at a time during the hours of 9-5 Monday through Friday. Anyone overstaying would have been ticketed.

One of Georgetown’s professional photographers, Paige Sawyer, offered up that many of these parking places are filled with employees and business owners whereas in the past, they always parked on the side streets and behind the stores when available, thereby leaving the parking places on Front Street open for customers.

It’s been that way every since I can remember. I asked myself what changed? The answer is Officer Ricky Floyd. Officer Floyd patrolled Front Street like it was his own personal space. Many times I would come out of a store after having been inside for only 15 minutes to find my tires marked. I would often shake my head and think to myself that I’d been Floyded.

I called the police station and asked, “Where is Ricky Floyd? Who is patrolling Front Street now?”

I was told it was none other than my own favorite officer, Shelley Brantley. I laughed and left my number. I was pleased that Shelley called me back within minutes. I opened the topic to him.

“Yeah, I know,” he confessed. “I was reading that feed last night and thinking to msyelf I need to crack down.”

“Well, what happened, Shelley?” I inquired. “Ricky Floyd had that beat down to a science.”

I could almost see Shelley nodding his head in agreement. “Yes, he did. He was good at it, too, but Officer Floyd didn’t have the dog pound patrol to deal with too. I have to answer calls for them as well.

“Just like this morning, after reading that feed last night, I had decided I was going to stay on Front Street all day and mark the cars and pass out tickets, but then these calls came in and I have to go answer them.”

“So you need help,” I surmised. “You’re doing two jobs where Ricky only had the Front Street beat.”

Shelley gave a chuckle, but didn’t offer comment to my suggestion. Instead, he explained, “I will tighten up on them and they’ll get straight for a while and comply then they go back to their old ways again."

“I’ve tried talking to people because I don’t want to write them tickets. That will cost them money, but it looks like I’m going to have to be more proactive on this so don’t be surprised to see me walking around with my chalk stick marking cars.”

“What do you think the problem is?” I asked and then offered, “I think we need to put the signs back up. There used to be a sign every three or four parking places and now it is like one parking sign per block.”

“That and the other problem is the shop owners and employees who are parking on Front Street instead of the side streets like they were,” he answered without hesitation. That was just what Paige Sawyer said. Shelley went on, “Just like this morning, I marked a store owner’s car at 8:00 this morning. Here it is almost 11:00 and I’m turning down Front Street now...Yup, his car is still there. He hasn’t moved it at all.”

I pointed out another shop owner who parks in front of his store all the time now. Shelley agreed, he has seen him, too, and has asked him several times not to do that. We talked about the fines for their total disregard to the Front Street parking rule.

“The first three fines are only about $10,” Shelley answered. “Then it goes up to $50 and then $100 and keeps going up.”

After I wrote a page of notes, I asked about the second part of Jack Woodward’s question: the handicapped and accessible parking spaces and was told I had to address city council for that. I had already suspected that answer and so I put in a call to the Mayor, Brenden Barber, who is also the head of City Council.

As of yet, I have not heard back from him. He’s been at the high school with the children doing a training camp. Hopefully, he will get back to me at some point soon.

I also put in a call to a couple of City Councilmen. Councilman Al Joseph called me back within the hour. I explained the situation to him about parking places and the lack of handicapped spaces, as well as the lack of ramp or wheelchair accessibility.

“Well, honestly, we’ve always had problems with shop owners and employees parking on Front Street,” he answered. “I guess the problem continues. As for the handicapped, I never thought about it before.”

I went on to explain, “The the few spaces that are available are so small that if someone were to park and need to get their walker or wheelchair out, they wouldn’t be able to do it without beating up the car next to them. In addition, they would not have an access ramp.”

“Yes, now that I’m thinking about it, there are not a lot of handicap places to park and I certainly agree, it’s something we need to take a look at it,” Al stated. “We need to accommodate all in the community, including our handicapped and disabled residents.”

With that said, I asked about the next council meeting. I’m thinking I need to attend and follow up on this. I’ll do my best to make that meeting which is due this week.

If nothing else, we have Officer Shelley Brantley taking care of business along the main street in Georgetown. If not for the community, then for the tourist that would like to stop and shop along our historic district. If they can’t stop, they can’t shop.