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Parking problems in downtown Johnson City

By Meredith Machen, mmachen@wcyb.com
Published On: Feb 27 2013 04:55:15 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 27 2013 09:04:07 PM CST

It's a double-edged sword in Johnson City -- as downtown grows with revitalization, parking spots are scarce.

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -

It's a double-edged sword in Johnson City -- as downtown grows with revitalization, parking spots are scarce.

Eve Robinson, an employee at Atlantis, said getting a spot is tough, and she's paid the tickets to prove it. "It says two-hour parking for shoppers, but because we have so many people who actually work downtown, there's not sufficient parking for us," said Robinson.

Vincent Massarelli, co-owner of Beckner on Main, said parking woes are hurting his cafe's potential. "We have customers come in and complain, [saying] 'there's no parking.' They ride right by. Some said, 'well, lucky I got a parking space,'" said Massarelli.

The parking lot off of Cherry Street is one of the biggest in downtown Johnson City with 213 spots. However, many businesses told us some of their customers don't want to park there because of safety reasons. "It's very difficult. Traffic just does not stop for you," said Robinson.

Shannon Castillo with the Washington County Economic Development Council told us parking problems aren't all bad. "The fact that people are saying that there's not a lot of parking downtown tells me that we're going a great job as far as revitalization occurs," said Castillo, the council's director of redevelopment.

But as apartments and shops are slated to open in an old downtown bank and Northeast State Technical Community College prepares to bring hundreds of students in for class, some feel the current 809 parking spaces downtown will become less of a headache and more of a nightmare.

That's why a public meeting Thursday night will hopefully spawn improvement ideas. "We're going to talk about long-term solutions [and] short-term solutions. I want them to think about lighting or safety, [and] how can we get people to park in the Cherry Street lot?" said Castillo.

That public meeting to discuss parking solutions will be Thursday, February 28, from 5 to 7 p.m. on the fourth floor of the King Centre located at 300 East Main Street.