City Manager Mark Stephens said his research leads him to believe downtown New Bern has had a parking problem for the last 100 years.
A committee set up by the city seeks to solve downtown parking problems after about seven or eight meetings.
Chaired by lame duck Alderman Dallas Blackiston as his swan song gig as alderman, the committee plans to recommend to the Board of Aldermen during an upcoming meeting that two-hour parking be enforced on downtown streets …
… Except for two blocks of Broad Street, between the East Front Street traffic circle and Middle Street. That stretch of city streets would be getting dollar-per-hour parking meters. About 50 parking spaces would be affected, by my count. (Count for yourself.)
Why treat Broad Street differently? The way the committee figures it, people fleeing two-hour parking would flock to the nearest street without two-hour parking, and that would be Broad Street.
That stretch of Broad Street is different than other downtown streets. It has no restaurants or boutiques or tourist destinations. It has county offices, courthouses, lawyer offices and the county elections office. Folks who park on Broad Street in that vicinity have serious business to conduct, not all that touristy stuff.
To discourage tourist traffic from descending on the 50 or so parking spaces along that stretch of Broad Street, the city would install parking meters with solar powered kiosks distributed at regular intervals into which motorists would pour their money.
The committee decided (with Alderman Jeffrey Odham advising against it) that lawyer offices, county government, local courts and the lone resident along Broad Street ought to be notified and given a chance to comment on the plan.
That meeting was Tuesday afternoon.
Lawyers, appointed and elected officials, and the only resident on that stretch of Broad Street showed up to oppose the idea.
Odham, while not saying “I told you so,” on Tuesday advised the committee to not fall prey to public comments after the committee did all that hard work over so many weeks while managing to avoid seeking input from people directly affected.
“We’re not going to make everybody happy,” said Odham. “We have to find a way to make everyone equally unhappy.”
The plan would commence around March if approved by the Board of Aldermen.
Check back later at New Bern Post later for more details about the plan.