Main Street parking for shoppers

Published 10:24 pm Wednesday, March 1, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Niles doesn't currently have a parking problem. But, a group of downtown businesses and residents said they worry an issue with Main Street parking could be just around the corner.
Around 20 people who work or live in the downtown area gathered Tuesday night at the Bell Building to discuss ways to keep the parking spots on and close to Main Street open for shoppers.
The group said they want to encourage anyone working or living in downtown to use city parking lots as often as possible.
But, Croteau said a small number of employees and business owners have been parking in Main Street spots that should be for consumers.
Niles Police Chief Ric Huff said there is a city ordinance on the books that states vehicles are only allowed to park on Main Street for a maximum time of two hours. But, Huff added, without signs indicating the limits, the police department cannot enforce the policy.
Huff said later he hoped to avoid getting the police department too involved.
Melody Colburn of Farmers Insurance suggested giving downtown employees an incentive to park off of Main Street.
Colburn said an employee list could be created by all the downtown businesses.
Owners could then vote on an employee of the month from the list based on how well the individual has avoided using Main Street. The reward would then be a pass for the employee to park on Main Street for the month.
Manager of Majerek's Mardy Grzegorek said a group of owners are already in the process of forming a downtown merchant association. Grzegorek said the parking situation will be discussed among the merchant group as well.
The goal of the meeting was to inform the downtown business and residents of the potential problem and get everyone involved in discussing it. “A lot of it is education,” Croteau said. “But the first step is getting people to buy into it.”
Croteau said information will be sent to all downtown businesses and residents which will describe what was discussed Tuesday night, including where people are encouraged to park and why.