Merchants push to reinstate short-term parking in St. Nicholas

Merchants push to reinstate short-term parking in St. Nicholas

Some St. Nicholas merchants may get their wish to have short-term parking signs reinstalled in front of their businesses on Beach Boulevard.

After a public meeting with St. Nicholas merchants at the Mudville Grille Sept. 10, District 5 Councilwoman Lori Boyer said she plans to draft a resolution requesting to reinstall signs for two-hour parking from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday in front of the existing parallel and angle parking spaces along the southwest side of Beach Boulevard between Walton Street and Palmer Terrace.

Parallel spaces across the street on the northwest side of Beach Boulevard will not get signs, allowing an unlimited amount of time patrons may park. In addition there are 13 city-owned spaces behind the Korean Baptist Church at 3200 Utina Avenue near Palmer Terrace, which shoppers can park for an unlimited amount of time.

During the meeting, which was also attended by Jim Robinson, the city’s director of Public Works, Boyer explained when the Florida Department of Transportation resurfaced the road the signs were removed and never reinstalled after the project was complete.

“They are telling me they won’t put back the signs unless they have a resolution from City Council. I’m here because I want to make sure everyone is in agreement,” said Boyer, who noted that she had received emails from merchants requesting the signs.

Boyer said it is important for the merchants to realize that the city’s parking enforcement department will most likely be willing to issue tickets between the normal business hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. No enforcement would be available on Saturdays because parking enforcement officials do not work, she said.  “Realistically, it won’t be enforced every day, all day long,” Boyer said.

Merchants for and against

Not all the merchants are happy with Boyer’s decision to reinstate the short-term parking signs.
Parking_03“Some of us don’t want the signs at all in front of our property,” said Liz Gavilan, in an email to Boyer after the meeting. Gavilan owns the building where Happy Viking Games is located.

“Some of the businesses are not open at 8 a.m. on a daily basis. Some are not open on Mondays. If the signs must go up, then 5 p.m. should be the cut-off time – not too many people stop off on their way home from work – they want to go home. On Saturday people have all day to make the stop before 5 p.m.,” Gavilan wrote.

For Gavilan’s tenant, Joseph Crosby of Happy Viking Games, limiting the spaces to two-hour parking on Saturdays is an issue. “For our business, Saturday is a tremendous problem,” Crosby said during the meeting, adding that he has no problem with short-term parking Monday through Friday; Saturday is troublesome because his shop often hosts all-day tournaments, which may be attended by as many as 60 players.

Crosby’s neighbors, Jean and Barbara Proulx, insist having the two-hour time limit will ensure customers can park in front or near their building which houses Jean’s Hair Systems, Jean’s Wig Shop, Northeast Florida Intergroup Services and St. Nicholas Group. If the parking signs are not used, some people monopolize all the spaces on the block all day, Barbara Proulx wrote in an email.

Proulx said most of the customers who patronize the stores in their building are short term and stay less than an hour. “The wig shop in particular has a lot of customers who are cancer patients, older people, often very weak, who come on Saturday. Many of them have to depend on someone in their family or someone who works all week so they come on Saturday. It is most important to at least have parking in front of the building – not a block away,” she wrote.

Due to the parking issue, Shana Stark, owner of The Skate Shop, has decided to close her business. “When I attended the meeting, I expressed that my shop was opened on Sundays and it was one of my better days due to no parking conflicts. The response I was met with by Happy Viking Games was (for them) to schedule games on Sunday, which took all my parking this past Sunday.  Happy Viking employees have admitted to me that ‘Yes, I take your parking because I am too lazy to walk.’ After the past few weeks of this continued uncooperative and hostile behavior by this one business neighbor I have made the decision to close before the end of the year. I have checked into options of moving, but at this time it would be too expensive,” Stark wrote in an email.

During the meeting Richard Tasker of the North Florida Intergroup Services said his group would like to see at least one handicapped space installed in the area so handicapped patrons would not have to cross Beach Boulevard.

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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