Parking Expert Arrives in City
Jonesboro downtown merchants are considering taking area development to another level by hiring an expert to help solve parking problems.
The Downtown Jonesboro Association and a City Council committee have wrestled with traffic issues for several months.
While developers invested more than $10 million over the last five years on renovations to open new businesses and introduce residential opportunities in the Main Street area, parking has become more of a critical issue, according to developer Clay Young.
The Hyatt-Palma consulting firm that specializes in downtown redevelopment projects outlined ways to systematically develop downtown Jonesboro into a destination for shoppers and tourists in its 1999 report, but failed to adequately address how to deal with parking, Young said at an association meeting this week.
The association contacted Andy Miller of Kalamazoo, Mich., who works with national parking consulting firm Carl Walker Inc. to consider options.
Miller visited Jonesboro Tuesday and Wednesday to develop a proposal. A decision on whether to hire the firm and how the firm would be paid will be made later.
Miller said he would show Jonesboro how to implement a parking management system.
"I don't see much of a parking system at all," Miller said of Jonesboro. "You're starting to get to a critical mass where something's got to give."
But he cautioned that it will be difficult.
"Parking's not rocket science -- it's a lot harder than that," Miller said.
Ten parking lots are located within the downtown district. Coupled with on-street parking, 588 spaces are available.
"There's a lot of parking spaces, it's just trying to figure out how to organize it," Young said Wednesday.
Miller said Jonesboro's downtown district is unique because Main is the primary way to reach North Jonesboro.
"It's the only state truck line that has speed bumps in it," he said.
In the meantime, Kent Arnold, chairman of the association's parking committee, said his panel has developed several recommendations that will be taken to the City Council's Public Works Committee.
If he's hired to develop a parking system for Jonesboro, Miller warned that the hard work will be up to the merchants and the government.
"A lot of my recommendations are going to be easy for me to say, but not so easy for you to implement for political reasons," Miller said.