City council candidates discuss paid parking

It should come as no surprise to learn that the first question asked during last Thursday’s city council forum addressed what is easily the most talked about issue that Fayetteville residents currently face – paid parking.

The question itself was about as direct as it could get, too. “Are you in favor of paid parking in and around the entertainment district?” asked Kyle Kellams, who served as emcee for the event sponsored by the Fayetteville Council of Neighborhoods.

The evening’s questions were gathered at recent Fayetteville Farmers’ Market event on the square and were narrowed from 18 down to 8 in order to stay within the allotted time for the forum.

A handful of questions also came from members of the audience, including one concerning Bikes Blues & BBQ which we covered a few days ago.

OK, here we go. Again, the question was “Are you in favor of paid parking in and around the entertainment district?”

Adam Fire Cat, Ward 2

That is a huge negative. I passed a petition out to put that up for referendum and obviously that never happened within 30 days. There was not a lot of support for that initially. Now I hear a lot of people in favor of it. I would personally – after having paid this bill – like to scrap the whole program itself.

Mark Kinion, Ward 2

I thought it was too much too quickly at the time and I went to several meetings. But if you went to the meetings, there was overwhelming support for it. Once the parking situation came to be, a lot of the students and people in the community were gone and they were hit with it suddenly. I’m empathetic with these individuals.

Rhonda Adams, Ward 4

I wasn’t on the city council when this vote was taken. We’ve learned a lot since then. I believe a parking deck is a safe and necessary entity for our town. I believe our people were trying to do what was best for us. Now we need to work to ensure that our downtown businesses do not suffer.

Jeff Dickey, Ward 4

I was against paid parking because it restricts business. I was against spending $880,000 to put in parking when we didn’t have the money. Now that the decision is made, obviously we do have to make payment on that. This isn’t revenue we have, it’s forecasted revenue and we need to take into consideration the businesses who are suffering.