Parking issue affecting business

A Seymour businessman said he might move his jewelry store out of the downtown if city officials can’t find a way to help alleviate parking issues.

Greg Reutter, owner of Tiemeier’s Jewelry, recently told city council members his business has lost money due to customers not being able to park closer to his building at 101 N. Chestnut St.

Although he has two-hour parking spots available in front of his store and on the side, Reutter said they are most often taken up by patients of the Community Health Center of Jackson County, which now has two downtown offices, one at 113 N. Chestnut St. and the other at 120 St. Louis Ave.

Reutter said the health center attracts a lot of people to the downtown, but they aren’t spending money at his store or other downtown businesses, and they take up most of the parking.

“Due to the overwhelming parking conditions with the volume of people that the (community health center) is generating, my business is suffering,” Reutter said. “Every day, I have customers complaining about the lack of spaces.”

He suggested the city approach the health center about relocating.

“We have a real needed service down there in the (community health center),” Councilman John Reinhart said. “Our problem is we got it in the wrong location. It’s something that the community needs, but it’s sitting right in the heart of the downtown, which kills all of our retail (businesses).”

Mayor Craig Luedeman said at the time the health center moved into the Community Agency Building, it was the best thing for the downtown because it saved the building.

“Now, it has outgrown itself,” Luedeman said.

Even with access to a free public parking lot nearby, Reutter said many customers, especially the elderly, do not want to park there and have to walk over the railroad tracks.

Last Monday, Reutter asked the council to allow him to have two 15-minute parking spots in front of his jewelry business for exclusive use by his customers.

“Applying for these spaces is my last resort before pulling my business out of the downtown and relocating to a different area,” Reutter said.

The building has housed a jewelry store since 1889, he added.

Although the council adopted an ordinance in 2015 allowing downtown businesses to request one 15-minute parking spot per block, it was approved for only those businesses selling food. Java Joint, at 120 N. Chestnut St., is the only business that has been granted a 15-minute spot since the ordinance went into effect.

Council also approved an ordinance last year to designate all parking along St. Louis Avenue as two-hour to keep business owners and others from parking there all day in hopes of freeing up parking for customers.

Reutter said he appreciates the police department’s increased efforts to enforce the two-hour parking by issuing more tickets, and even though it has helped some, it hasn’t solved the problem.

Councilman Matt Nicholson suggested the council look at the parking ticket fees to see if they need to be changed. Currently, a ticket is $3 if paid the day it’s issued or $5 after.

But after receiving a $40 or $50 parking ticket the first time, those people will never come back downtown again, Councilman Jim Rebber said.

One person from the public suggested the city install parking meters.

Luedeman said he doesn’t want to see Reutter move his business and doesn’t have a problem with allowing him to have two 15-minute parking spots.

Reutter said he would be willing to pay the city in order to lease two parking spots if the council would let him.

“I bring a lot of out-of-town business to downtown and would hate to see that go,” he said. “Although customers do not want me to move, they do understand why I am considering this option.”