City to add two 15-minute parking spots downtown

In order to help keep Tiemeier’s Jewelry Store downtown, city officials have agreed to make two parking spots near the building 15-minute instead of two-hour parking.

Seymour City Council approved an ordinance Monday to amend the city code to allow for the change at the request of store owner Greg Reutter.

The two spots are on the south side of the building on St. Louis Avenue. The ordinance will expire in one year, at which time the council could opt to renew it if it seems to be helping.

Currently, there is just one other 15-minute parking spot downtown that was approved by the council in 2015 for Java Joint at 120 N. Chestnut St.

Although Reutter has two-hour parking spots available in front of his store at 101 N. Chestnut St., he said the spots often are used by patients of the Jackson County Community Health Center, which has locations at 113 N. Chestnut St. and 120 St. Louis Ave.

He said city officials should have a conversation about relocating the health center and suggested the city purchase the building.

“The common denominator is why is that even downtown?” he said. “I don’t see how you are going to create a retail vision for downtown when you have a block being destroyed by that.”

Council President Jim Rebber said the health center is the only reason the Community Agency Building was saved and restored.

It was the largest building downtown, and it was falling apart, Rebber said.

“If no one did anything then, you would have the same problem today,” he said. “Downgrading the fact that we have someone downtown, it saved the building. No one else was going to go in there. No one else had the resources to save that building.”

Rebber said the city should have taken care of the parking issue years ago by purchasing the lot behind the former National Bank at 222 W. Second St. and making it a public lot. The lot currently is owned by Smith Law Office.

Reutter said he is willing to “try anything” to fix parking problems that prevent people from stopping to shop at his business.

He has no plans to go out of business but said the parking has caused him to lose business and made him consider moving his store out of the downtown.

“At my age, I don’t want to have to move my business,” he said.

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

There has been some improvement lately with increased parking enforcement by the Seymour Police Department, Reutter said.

“It’s made a difference in my business,” he said. “And I went down to Bullwinkle’s, and he (owner Garvin Parmley) said his business has picked up just by doing that.”

Councilman Brian D’Arco said he recently had noticed there are more parking spots open since the police department has increased enforcement by handing out more tickets.

Councilman Matt Nicholson said he doesn’t think the answer is creating more parking but to purchase better technology for the police to issue tickets. That technology would allow the department to scan license plates electronically to issue tickets instead of chalk marking tires.

He also said he thought the two 15-minute parking spots is just putting a bandage on the problem.

Councilman Shawn Malone agreed, saying Nicholson’s idea would be the “easiest line of defense for us.”

“We can’t pick up buildings and move them, we all know that,” Malone said. “We can’t go and buy something immediately, but we can get (Police Chief Bill Abbott) a piece of equipment that can help him do his job better and more efficient, and I think that’s going to help us all out.”