Two-hour parking ordinance continues to draw controversy

Two-hour parking ordinance continues to draw controversy

Two-hour parking is coming to St. Nicholas Town Center.

In early November, the Jacksonville City Council passed an ordinance supporting the installation of two-hour parking signs by the Florida Department of Transportation in front of the businesses on the southwest side of Beach Boulevard between Walton Street and Palmer Terrace.

The resolution, entitled Ordinance 2015-0705, sailed through the Council uncontested. It was filed by District 5 Councilwoman Lori Boyer and sponsored by Councilmen Tommy Hazouri and Scott Wilson. Wilson holds the Council seat formerly held by Don Redman. Prior to his election, Wilson served as an administrative assistant to Redman, who served this portion of District 5 prior to re-districting

The signs will limit parking to two hours 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. Parallel spaces across the street lining the northwest side of Beach Boulevard near the Mudville Grille will not be affected, allowing patrons to park for an unlimited amount of time. In addition, there are 13 city-owned spaces behind the Korean Baptist Church at 3200 Utina Avenue near Palmer Terrace where shoppers can also park without a limit.

After a public meeting on the issue Sept. 10, Boyer filed the request at the urging of several St. Nicholas merchants, including Jean and Barbara Proulx, owners of the building housing Jean’s Wig Shop; Eric and Janet Johnson, owners of Jean’s Wig Shop, and Shana Stark, owner of the Skate Shop St. Nicholas.

“My husband and I, we’re very pleased with it,” said Barbara Proulx after hearing the news. “This means our tenants (Eric and Janet Johnson) will be able to stay in business with it.”

Stark was also thrilled with the news. “Thank goodness,” she said. “It’s awesome. That’s really going to help me,” she said, noting clients and employees from other businesses often take up all the spaces for extended periods of time, which severely impacts her sales. “Recently I had my worst month ever. They almost put me out of business,” she said.

But not everyone was happy with the new ordinance. Liz Gavalin, owner of the building that houses Happy Viking Games was furious when she heard the news. “They did not notify me (it was being filed with City Council). Lori Boyer promised she would let me know. I will be storming the City Council about this,” Gavalin said.

Gavalin said the parking ordinance was “predicated on the lie” that the Florida Department of Transportation had posted two-hour signs, which were removed years ago when it resurfaced the road. Producing photos of the signs, Gavalin said they were not FDOT signs but signs which had been installed and paid for by Proulx. She also claimed plenty of parking is available for everyone on the street and that the signs are unnecessary.

“The signs are not needed,” Gavalin said in a phone interview. “I’m going to raise hell. I’m going to contact the state of Florida. If we really needed them, it would be one thing, but those signs were not put there by the state. It was all predicated by a lie.”

Later, in an email to The Resident she wrote, “I put a lot of money into my building this year, upgrading it so we could get a change of use to assembly. I made the investment so my tenant could hold tournaments on the weekends. They don’t do this often, just occasionally. Another reason I did it was so when that tenant departs, I will have greater flexibility for leasing the building.  Restricting parking to two hours will impact my ability to lease the building and will impact me personally when I have a need to be there – which is not often but is needed at times. When I painted the inside of the building this spring, the guy helping me paint parked there all day – because he was working inside. I may need to go there and clean or do something inside for more than two hours, and I don’t want to have to go move my car every whipstitch.”

In a phone interview, Boyer said she had notified all the merchants impacted by the change that she was filing the ordinance. “It is incumbent on anyone who is interested to come to the Council meeting,” she said, adding FDOT said it would only install the signs if it had a resolution from the city.

“I’m not sure whether the state put them in. It doesn’t matter,” Boyer said. “The point is they were there and existed, regardless of who put them in. The resolution is not predicated on who put them in, it’s on what I think is best for the retail area,” she said, adding she is currently working on getting a crosswalk installed across Beach Boulevard at Palmer Terrace and having other road amenities such as slower speed limits and possibly narrower roads put in the area to help make St. Nicholas Center more pedestrian friendly.

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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