Fulton city lawmakers have a dispute to mediate among downtown Fulton businesses over parking.
The owner of the Tavern on the Lock restaurant is asking for the second time for the city to end all day parking in the city parking lot adjacent to his restaurant. About half of the spaces in that lot, Lot 5, are all-day spaces and the other half are two hour spaces.
Ryan has said that the lot fills quickly during lunch and dinner hours and the sight of a full lot convinces some people that the restaurant is full when it’s not. He believes the restaurant has lost several thousand dollars in business because of the parking.
But people who work in several other downtown businesses argue that they need convenient access, that other city lots force them to cross a busy street and that the city doesn’t maintain the lots for safe walking in the winter.
The city operates seven municipal parking lots. Some are busy all of the time; at least one gets nearly no traffic at all.Â There are 99 all-day spaces, 117 two-hour spaces, 82 available by permit only. (You can see a map of downtown parking spaces here.) There is no cost for a permit.
“There isn’t enough downtown parking for the employees that work in the area,” said Regina Lunkenheimer, chief operating officer of Eastern Shore Insurance on Cayuga St. The business is concerned about customers who use their business and others, she said, but a census of some of the businesses in the area found that there were more than 100 people who worked in those businesses.
She presented a petition signed by 84 downtown employees asking that the all-day spaces in Lot 5 not be converted to two-hour parking.
Ed Schaperjahn of HELP Small Business Solutions said he parks in the permit lot across Oneida St. and said the light changes too quickly. He added that he has fallen in that lot because the snow piles up. “If you want us to park there, you ought to make parking safe for us,” he said.
“I do believe it’s a laziness issue. It’s not a safety issue,” said Ryan. He said the medical office that moved in to the former Wayne’s Drugs also would benefit from the added two-hour parking. He urged people to look at the lot on an average Thursday. He said they will see a full parking lot. Ryan believes the issue has cost his business
Ryan said that if the city changed Lot 5 to two hour parking, workers in other businesses will adjust. “If you push ’em, they’ll have to go,” he said. “It seems to me that the people who want to keep it the way it is don’t have a lot of customer base.”
“When I see (empty spaces) in one lot that are permit parking, it tells me that people don’t want to be inconvenienced and walk,” said Mayor Ron Woodward.
He said he tried to ask Windstream about the vacant lot next to their building, with the idea that it would be a more convenient place for Towpath Towers residents to park. He said Windstream officials never returned his calls.
Woodward said that he’s considering selling lots 3 and 4 to any business that would want to build there. “It’s obvious they’re never gonna get used” by people for parking, he said.
The Common Council took no action after the public hearing but will take up the issue at a future meeting.
[This article was edited after publication to add the fact that there is no cost for a parking permit for either of the lots that use permits.]