Local businessman: Downtown parking needs addressed

A new business owner said he is happy he made the decision to come back to his hometown after college and open his computer repair shop in downtown Seymour.

But Tanner Belcher has one major complaint: parking.

He said he doesn’t believe there is a lack of parking spots available for TekHead customers in the 100 block of West Second Street, he just thinks too many other business owners and people who work downtown are taking up those spaces.

“There’s an ongoing issue of business owners and their employees parking along the main street of the storefronts instead of designated parking areas,” he said. “This prevents my customers from being able to park in front of my store.”

Belcher said it’s not an issue for all of his customers to park and walk to his shop, but he does have a lot of elderly clientele who need to park closer because they have difficulty walking.

He presented his concerns recently to Seymour City Council. As a possible solution, he suggested increasing the fees for downtown parking violations.

Currently, people who park downtown for more than two hours may receive a parking ticket of $3. That amount increases to $5 if the ticket isn’t paid the day it is issued.

“I don’t think it’s enough. It’s cheap parking. It’s not enough to make them not park there,” he said. “I know there are people down there that actually let (parking tickets) stack up and then they go pay them in stacks. If you have people parking down there for 2, 3, 4 hours a day, and they’re not a customer, it’s really hurting small businesses downtown.”

Belcher said he had been told by police they had issued more than 600 parking tickets this year and many of those have gone unpaid.

His solution is to issue a $25 ticket for the first offense and double that to $50 for subsequent violations.

“That’s going to deter people from actually parking out there while they are working in the storefront,” he said.

Belcher said employees who work downtown may not know where to park. There are several downtown parking lots that provide free parking.

“I feel it is their employer’s responsibility to let them know,” he added. “I just think we have an issue of business owners not being responsible enough to let their employees and themselves know they aren’t supposed to be parking there. There’s actually a place for you to park and it’s free.”

Downtown parking has long been a topic of discussion for city officials and business owners.

“I know this has been an issue before. I know it’s been raised several times,” Belcher said.

Councilman Lloyd Hudson said one of the big problems of enforcing the rule is that there is no way to identify those violating the rule as downtown employers or employees.

“We don’t know whose car it is,” Hudson said.

Belcher said he thought the city was looking at purchasing technology that would allow police officers to scan the vehicle’s license plate to identify who it belongs to.

Councilman Shawn Malone said he had wanted the city to invest in such equipment until he found out it would be too expensive.

“I thought that would help eliminate our problem,” he said. “I think we, as a council, have to take a look at it again and see where we’re at. I hope we can find an answer.”