About 40 people gathered at Sequoyah United Methodist Church last night for another of Mayor Lioneld Jordan’s quarterly town hall meetings. Here’s a brief rundown of what you missed.
During his opening remarks, the mayor wasted no time mentioning that the paid parking plan in the Dickson Street area has begun. “In a year we hope [paid parking] will begin to provide for a parking deck down there to help solve a lot of our parking problems,” he said.
Other recent items noted were the Huffington Post’s inclusion of Fayetteville as an “Unexpectedly Green” city, the completion of the Township renovation project, and the unveiling of the Find it in Fayetteville campaign logo.
Construction on the roundabout could begin later this year, Brown said, but the flyover, which is still under design, won’t begin until sometime in 2011.
Other projects mentioned were the re-paving of Mission Boulevard which should be finished by this weekend, and some eventual improvements which are planned for Crossover Road, Old Wire Road, and Van Asche Drive.
Transportation services director Terry Gulley discussed some details of the recent paid parking plan which went into effect at 10 a.m. Monday morning. Gulley reminded everyone that the on-street part of the plan was a couple of days behind schedule and won’t be instituted until sometime Wednesday morning.
Other portions of the plan are also set for a later release. Things like the 30 one-time residential guest passes and the pay-by-cell option to extend time without having to walk to a meter won’t come until early October.
Gulley said the city is trying to do a lot of education and that all parking personnel are currently in the area to help acclimate drivers to the new rules. “We’re trying to provide a good experience as a first experience,” he said, adding that city staff didn’t hear many complaints at all yesterday.
Finance director Paul Becker reminded the crowd of the city’s current economic challenges, but said that the city initiatives and the mayor’s plan to address the budget deficit are expected to hold for the rest of the year.
Things like freezing wages and hirings, reducing overtime, and eliminating planning commissioner salaries have all contributed to the success of the mayor’s plan which included a furlough day for city staff and turning off trail lights after 11 p.m.
Those plans, Becker said, should meet the $850,000-900,000 shortfall the city is facing as long as things don’t get worse.
Parks and Recreation programs
Connie Edmonston, director of parks and recreation, said that a grand opening date for the dog park at Bryce Davis Park will soon be announced and that fencing installation will begin Friday.
She also gave a brief update on a ton of upcoming recreation programs including flag football, softball, kickball, 8-on-8 women’s soccer, and men’s basketball leagues which are starting soon.
The last portion of all the mayor’s town hall meetings include a Q&A session.
There were several transportation-related questions, but Josh Nowell’s got the most attention. Nowell, a tenant in the Entertainment District area, said he watched half of the Walton Arts Center parking lot sit empty for about four hours Monday after the paid parking gates were lowered.
“Have there been any thoughts that any revenue generated by paid parking could be canceled out by a possible loss in tax revenue from the businesses on Dickson?” Nowell asked.
City staff responded by saying they’ll definitely review the plan, but not before they’ve had enough time to properly evaluate it.
“This is something we’re going to have to track over a long period of time,” said Becker.
Don Marr, the city’s chief of staff, took it even further. “You won’t see a short-term decision made,” said Marr after comparing paid parking to the indoor smoking ban Fayetteville implemented a few years ago.
There’s an expected “protest” period of about 90 days after implementation of plans of this magnitude, said Marr, adding that sales tax revenues eventually increased by about 16% after the smoking ban was put in place.
It seems the city is willing to wait out any potential protests. Here’s hoping the businesses can handle it, too.