Waking up from a downtown parking nightmare - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Waking up from a downtown parking nightmare

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June 25, 2003

Albany - After complaints from visitors and business owners, more free parking will soon be available in downtown Albany. County commissioners agreed to return the parking lot on the corner of Broad Avenue and Jackson street to a free lot. And, the decision may save some businesses from going under.

The tables are full at the Harvest Moon restaurant. But a few doors down, the isles are empty at Save-A-Bit store. Owner Helga Cavender says lunch goers take up all the parking spaces. "The parking is terrible downtown," said Cavender. "At first we blamed the restaurants for taking the space, but there are lot of businesses downtown and just not enough spaces."

Downtown businesses are losing customers every day because of a lack of parking. "I would see people drive by about three times and then just go somewhere else," said Harvest Moon owner Bo Henry.

The parking nightmare only worsened when the county decided to turn an adjacent lot into paid parking. At lunch time, it's nearly impossible to find a parking space on Broad Avenue. So if you wanted to eat lunch at Broad Street Bistro or buy a hat at Shinault's, you would have to pay to park in the adjacent lot or in the west deck.

On Monday, Bo Henry and the Downtown Merchant's Association took their parking concerns to county commissioners. And, it worked. "We want to encourage, not discourage, business in downtown Albany, " said Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard. "So, we freed up that flat lot for customers. We hope more free parking will keep people in the downtown area."

Now you can park for free in the flat lot for up to two hours, which businesses owners hope is enough time to enjoy lunch and shopping. County commissioners plan to study the necessity of paid parking in both the East and West decks as well.

Posted at 3:45PM by kathryn.murchison@walb.com