By BRADEN LAMMERS
The city of Jeffersonville is counting on more traffic in its downtown historic district, especially once people can cross the Big Four bicycle and pedestrian bridge.
So are the residents of the homes surrounding the bridge, the planned Big Four Station park and historic downtown. And as a result the Board of Public Works has been inundated with requests for resident-only parking signs in the area.
But the city has concerns about the amount of requests the area property owners are making — some have requested multiple spots — and whether parking would be available to those who do travel downtown. As a remedy, the city on Wednesday placed a moratorium on issuing resident-only permits.
“It’s becoming a bit of an issue with the shortage of property,” said Mayor Mike Moore. “We just don’t want to paint ourselves into a corner here because we did see the residents from Pearl Street were all starting to say, ‘I want a resident-only sign.’”
One of those residents was at Wednesday’s board of public works meeting as she has a request for two spots pending from the previous meeting.
Pearl Street resident Janet Byrd made the requests, in part, because her husband is disabled and cannot walk long distances. She said with the amount of traffic in the area now, there are times where she has to park a block or two away from her home.
City officials suggested to Byrd, with her husband’s disability, that she request a handicapped-only parking sign be placed in front of their home.
However, a handicapped parking sign does not limit the spot to be used only by the resident. It is available for any driver with a handicapped license plate or tag to park in the spot. The resident-only sign grants the designation to park only to the property owner, is renewable annually and costs $100 each year.
There is no cost for a handicapped-only parking sign.
Byrd said while she would prefer to have two resident-only spots in front of her home, the handicapped-only sign is acceptable.
To ensure the flood of requests does not continue and overwhelm the parking available downtown, the board of public works issued a moratorium on issuing resident-only parking permits.
“It is within the board’s discretion, if it so chooses, to regulate how those designations are being imposed,” said Corporation Attorney Les Merkley. “It would not impact anyone that currently has a resident-only parking designation.”
Moore added even with the moratorium, residents should not panic that there won’t be any parking available for them once the construction projects are finished. He explained that there is a plan in place to accommodate some of the traffic that is expected to flood downtown.
“When the Big Four Station is built there are 80 new parking spots that are going to be created,” Moore said.