MOUNT VERNON — If preliminary plans come to fruition, visitors to the downtown may have a solution to the intermediate-term parking problem.
During a meeting of the Streets and Public Buildings Committee on Monday, City Council members discussed the possible use of the parking lot on the northwest corner of Vine and Mulberry streets; the lot has 18 parking spots. Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis said the Mount Vernon Parking Co. woud consider leasing the lot from the city, and would make 10 of the spots free; the other eight would be rentals.
Councilman and committee chairman John Fair said the MVPC may request the city seal and stripe the lot before assuming management. Revenue from the rental spaces would go to the parking company, which would assume the cost of future upkeep to and monitoring of the lot.
Moving to a general discussion of parking, Mavis said there seems to be some support for four-hour parking in the downtown area. Lynne Riccard, downtown manager, said the two-hour parking limit now in effect does not give ample time for those coming downtown to eat and shop. In addition, she said, some businesses, such as the Bead Therapy Shop, offer classes which exceed two hours.
Police Chief Mike Merrilees suggested changing the parking liimit on Gay and Mulberry streets to four hours to accommodate those who are going to be in the downtown area longer than two or three hours. Parking monitor Larry Fogle agreed with the suggestion.
Fogle said there are 53 spots on Gay Street and 57 spots on Mulberry Street that are “grossly under utilized.”
“Maybe there are 10 cars at peak period in those areas,” he said. “Those spots would be good candiates for longer-term parking.”
Riccard also supported the four-hour parking on Gay and Mulberry streets.
“People would have long-term parking within one block of the downtown business district,” she said. “They may not always have ideal parking right in front of the store, but I do feel some four-hour parking will open up some of the spots on South Main Street.”
It was also suggested the parking ordinance be reviewed so as to avoid confusion in the language.
In regular session, council tabled an ordinance approving the hiring of temporary police officers and firefighters if any of the full-time personnel are off duty because of illness, vacation, injury, miliary leave or unpaid leave. Merrilees said some members of the police union expressed concern with the ordinance. Mavis said Mark Drum, union representative, also told him some members had concerns about the ordinance.
Fire Chief Shawn Christy said no concerns were voiced by his personnel, and that he has one individual who will soon be taking an extended leave.
Mount Vernon resident Dude Conway spoke to council, wanting to raise the community’s awareness of the unemployment situation in the county. He said a lot of people have told him their grandchildren cannot get jobs.
“We have some great companies here ... but there’s no openings there for the young people,” he said. “I want the whole community to know what’s going on out there.
“We have no idea how long this [recession] is going to last,” he continued. “I just want the peole to know, and to do anything they can do to help the unemployment. There’s a lot of people out there who don’t realize how bad it is. It looks like it’s improving, but it’s going to take a long time to get back to where we were.
“There’s a lot of people who don’t care,” he added. “We’ve got to get them to care.”
Mavis told council the city’s application for money to assess the condition of the former American National Can property was received. A conference call will be held Wednesday to discuss the application.
Council approved a proclamation declaring Dec. 5 as Mount Vernon Smoke Detection Awareness Day. Mavis said this was motivated by Fredericktown Fire Chief Scott Mast because of the alternate heating methods used at this time of year.
Council members expressed wishes for community members to have a good Thanksgiving, and encouraged them to attend the Christmas Parade and Christmas Walk slated for this weekend. Councilman Mike Hillier said the Heritage Centre Association will provide free gift wrapping for gifts purchased from downtown merchants. He also encouraged residents who have a question about an increase in their Time Warner bill to contact the company to discuss rates.
Hillier also said he received information from City Law Director Bill Smith about truck traffic, and that he spoke with Merrilees about what is legal and illegal.
According to Hillier, Merrilees thought there were some tickets that could be issued to drivers who illegally use the city streets. Hillier asked for the support of the administration and law director's office in writing these tickets.
Council adjourned into executive session to discuss possible land acquisition. No further action was taken.