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Downtown merchants seeking parking changes
Brad Ainsworth, co-owner of Achin' 4 Bakin' at 1519 Newcastle St., is happy to see someone making an effort to address downtown parking issues.

But even though the changes proposed will benefit his business, he doesn't think it's enough.

"I'm pleased they are going to do something about it, but it seems (inadequate)," Ainsworth said. "It's only along this block. It's going to push parking elsewhere."

Along the busy 1500 block where Ainsworth's cafe, True Vine Wine and Gourmet, the law office of Alex Atwood, Arte Pizza and the Ritz Theatre are located, an empty parking spot can be hard to find during business hours with office workers tying up spaces all day.

Nearly a dozen businesses and offices share 20 parking spaces.

Ainsworth said most businesses see in-and-out traffic, and if convenient parking isn't available, patrons will avoid the area.

"It's the chronic abusers, not the occasional shopper, that is the problem," Ainsworth said.

Still, he's happy that something is going to be done.

The Downtown Business Association met in June to discuss possible solutions to the downtown's cramped parking situation. After some compromise, the association decided to propose a few changes to the city ordinance.

The biggest change would be for the city to enforce two-hour parking along the 1500 block of Newcastle and on Gloucester Street from Bay to Richmond streets.

Elsewhere, parking would be unlimited, except along Monck and F streets, where no parking is allowed.

Parking along Monck Street near the Brunswick-Glynn County Library is 45 minutes, but it too will be designated for unlimited parking if the proposed changes are adopted by the city commission.

The fine for expired parking is recommended at $5. It would be more for repeat offenders.

Merchants also are asking the city to consider making clearer signs that identify two-hour parking and unlimited parking zones. They also would like to see signs that lead drivers to free parking lots on Mansfield and G streets.

Heather Schultz, director of Craft, Appreciation, Performance, Education (CAPE) Theater, said it is important for the city to develop a set of regulations and stick to them.

"We need the time enforced and listed on signs," Schultz said.

For as long as Mayor Bryan Thompson can remember, people have complained about the tight parking situation along Newcastle Street.

"It's not unique to our city. This happens in small towns and other cities everywhere," Thompson said.

Thompson said he understands the need for change.

"If the commission decides to go that route and change the two-hour areas, I'll probably go along with it," Thompson said. "I'm not convinced it will solve the problem. Nothing ever seems to totally please everyone."

The city commissioners will vote on the proposed changes to the downtown parking ordinance at the next city meeting, at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 1, at Old City Hall, 1229 Newcastle St.



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