Downtown Fulton Parking Dispute Returns: ‘Not Enough Parking’, Says One; ‘Laziness Issue’, Says Another

Fulton city parking lot 5, adjacent to the Tavern on the Lock restaurant, which features two hour parking in the outside ring of spaces and all day parking in the center row of spaces.
Fulton city parking lot 5, adjacent to the Tavern on the Lock restaurant, which features two hour parking in the outside ring of spaces and all day parking in the center row of spaces.

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.  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.]


  1. the city should have thought of this when they did all the reconstruction years ago. who ever made the blueprints in the parking down there did not know what they were doing. Should have just left downtown the way it use to be years ago. The city never had these problems with parking. Look at the lot by Empire vision, Im sorry but how stupid!! that lot was at one time HUGE. Now you can hardly turn in and out of a damn parking space its so small.

  2. A comment here from a person who works in the area, who did not want his/her name attached to the comment he/she e-mailed to me, but who makes a good point: “The parking situation would be greatly benefited and solved if downtown employees parked in Lot 7. I believe that the only employees using Lot 7 are Fulton Savings Bank employees and perhaps Streeter and Van Sanford employees. There are always at least 20 to 30 vacant spaces in Lot 7.”

  3. Ok, well I think that the owners of the Lock are under the assumption that their business is more important than that of the rest of the businesses. Well, they are not. So, figure out a creative way to tell people that you have open seating in your restaurant. These lots are “city” lots, which mean, they are owned by the taxpayers of the city of fulton, the residents. The lots are for our convenience, not just the local businesses. If you want more parking for your patrons, ask your employees if they would be willing to park somewhere else. You can’t tell them not to park there, because they are residents of city of fulton too. They also have a choice. The city is not here to cater to you. If you are in business, you need to think outside of the box. (or in this case- outside of the lots)

  4. I agree with Donna. the parking downtowm is ridiculous and its one of the reason i avoid it at all cost. I am sure there are alot of people like that. Donna is correct about the empire vision parking lot. The islands and the trees and flowers need to go and open it up again. And if we do what the Loke owner wants us to do,what business is NEXT. The Blue Moon. I dont know too mnay people who look at the parking lot to decide if i should eat there.

  5. There has ALWAYS been a parking problem in downtown Fulton in one form or another; today, people are just too lazy to walk.

  6. The employees should NOT have a choice, they should park where their boss tells them to. They get paid by having customers come through their doors – no parking – no customers. Bear in mind that those ‘tax payer’ owned lots are there to generate ‘sales tax’ so that the ‘tax payer’ doesn’t have to pay more in property tax.
    Now I hope you understand the reason that they have parking lots for customers and other lots for employees.

  7. Of course every public parking lot is busy at lunch time, that’s when people get their lunch break. Be it going to a restaurant, bank etc. I expect that and if I really want to go to a certain restaurant I will not mind parking farther away. I don’t think not being able to park next to the front door of a restaurant is the problem.

  8. How about the restaurant take their deck down and turn their own land into a parking lot. I am sure it could be done. Just need to talk to the DEC. To the person who said “the employees should do what their boss tells them to do”, you are just a plain jerk. Their boss is only their boss during work, not in life.They are people, not puppets on a string for the little money I am sure they make. Waitresses don’t even make minimum wage, and cooks make what- ten dollars an hour? If that is how you feel about your boss, and you would do anything they tell you to do, you are a strange bird. Get over yourself. Bottom line, if a business needs a parking lot, then they should purchase land and build one. Then, when it is private land, they have the right to tell people where to park, and only then. I remember when waynes was for sale, why not buy that and tear it down, and make it parking? Our parking lots don’t generate sales tax by the way, they give taxpayers a place to park, and it is in our property tax bills. The roads are part of our gas taxes, not property. This particular parking lot is owned by the taxpayers of fulton, not a restaurant, or any other business that is there. In business it all about location. I am assuming when they purchased this restaurant they should have understood the parking, and they got a really good deal on the real estate they purchased. So, figure it out. But, don’t act like they are above the rest of the tax payers, or the other business’s down town. I don’t remember Chris complaining about parking when he was running the restaurant.

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