Downtown parking issues highlighted

By Wendy Byerly Wood -

Curbside parking in downtown Elkin remains a concern of some area business owners and the Elkin Board of Commissioners, but the groups still are struggling with how to handle the issue.

During a recent meeting of the Downtown Business Association, as well as last week’s commissioners meeting, the topic of how to address the issue of downtown business owners, their employees and property owners parking curbside, which takes up parking other business owners would like to see reserved for customers only.

“This comes up every year,” said Commissioner Cicely McCulloch, who also is a downtown business and property owner. “Laura [Gaylord, Main Street and community manager], the downtown merchants and Main Street Elkin want to come up with a plan.”

She explained there needs to be a written reason why the owners and employees can’t park curbside so if questions arise, it can be addressed in a policy. “This should be Business 101 not to park in front of your business where customers should be parking,” McCulloch said.

One of the businesses asking for a policy is Prism Medical Products which expanded in the past few months adding a second downtown location and more than 20 more employees. “He said he needs the town to come up with a plan to make it stick with his employees,” said the commissioner.

“We are not asking for a criminal citation, but an ordinance so employees, downtown business owners and property owners can’t park on East and West Main streets, Court Street, Church Street and Market Street,” she said. “Enforcement will be your neighbor, the same as if someone is not cutting their grass.”

Parking is free in downtown Elkin, and there is no time limit on how long a vehicle can remain parked in one space like some other towns have in place.

McCulloch said it’s not about the person who parks for 20 or 30 minutes, but about the pick-up truck or other vehicle sitting for two or more days in one parking spot on Main Street where customers should be parking.

Town Manager John Holcomb asked the board for permission to research how other towns handle the issue and come back to the board with some options. He said Elkin already may have an ordinance still on the books that includes the previously removed parking meters which may need revisiting and amending as well.

“We’ve got to have a way to identify those employees and owners,” he said.

Commissioner Dr. Skip Whitman said if the issue is a concern with downtown business owners, then the town needs to listen and address the topic.

“We don’t want to punish shoppers and visitors,” said McCulloch. “It is about the truck that’s there for two days, not the person who goes to 222 [Public House] for dinner.”

Commissioner Terry Kennedy asked if it is a topic the town’s planning and zoning board should look into, to which Holcomb said it was.

“We need to find a solution everyone can agree with,” said Holcomb.

McCulloch said something needs to be done before Christmas. “We were asked a year ago to handle this.”

Whitman made a motion to allow Holcomb and his staff to research the issue and update the board at its next meeting, which will be Oct. 5, a week earlier than regularly scheduled. Commissioner J.L. Lowe seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously.

“We want to find a solution to the problem,” reiterated Holcomb.

Wendy Byerly Wood can be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.

By Wendy Byerly Wood

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