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Official sees lack of parking in downtown as 'good problem'

Madison Mathews • Feb 26, 2013 at 9:56 PM

As downtown Johnson City continues to make strides in revitalization, finding parking has become more and more difficult.

On Thursday from 5-7 p.m., the Washington County Economic Development Council will host a downtown parking forum to discuss what needs to be done to make parking more accessible for those who live, work and frequent the downtown area.

City officials will be on hand during the meeting, which will be held on the fourth floor of the King’s Centre.

“I kind of look at this as an opportunity. If downtown was failing, we wouldn’t be talking about this,” Economic Development Council Director of Redevelopment Shannon Castillo said.

Since November, Castillo said she’s been surveying merchants, residents and law enforcement about parking issues.

Nearly everyone agrees it is an issue that needs to be fixed, especially as more and more developments pop up in the downtown area.

“It’s a good problem. The fact of the matter is everyone is benefitting from downtown’s redevelopment and this just happens to be one those growing pains,” Economic Development Council Director of Marketing and Community Relations Jeff Keeling said.

New businesses like The Beckner on Main, 232 E. Main St., have experienced parking woes since opening earlier this year.

“I’ll be honest with you, it’s a good problem that parking is an issue. That means people are coming downtown. It’s a good issue and a bad issue. At nighttime, parking is real bad, but it’s for the clubs. The other issue is retail stores aren’t going to come here because there’s not parking for their clients,” Beckner co-owner Vincent Massarelli said.

Massarelli said he and some other members of the Beckner team will be attending Thursday’s meeting, where they hope some solutions will be discussed.

“We need more apartments down here. We need more retail stores. We need to just figure out what’s going to take place with the parking,” he said.

For more information on the meeting, call the Economic Development Council at 943-0530.

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