Seymour officials, business owners discuss downtown parking


Increased awareness of enforcement and directional signage to public parking lots are among the solutions to address the parking issue in downtown Seymour.

Those points were discussed by the 20 people who attended Wednesday night’s hourlong downtown parking forum at the shelter house at Gaiser Park.

In attendance were five of the seven Seymour City Council members, Seymour Chamber of Commerce President Dan Robison, Seymour Main Street Executive Director Bri Roll, Seymour Police Department Chief Bryant Lucas, Seymour Parks and Recreation Department Director Stacy Findley and several business and/or building owners, one of whom also lives downtown. 

"Any idea is a good idea to us. There isn’t a bad idea," Councilman Chad Hubbard, who chairs the retail development committee, said at the start of the meeting.

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"We’ve heard, we’ve discussed a lot of things with downtown parking. Is there an easy solution? Probably not," he said. "I walked around Monday, Tuesday, earlier this morning downtown. Just in the time I was there, I never saw any lot that was full completely. There are a couple hot spots that kind of bottlenecks everybody, so we’re up in the air whatever you’d like to discuss."

Robison said he recently walked around with TreyAnn Berry, a clerk and parking enforcement officer for the police department. He said he didn’t see an overall parking problem in the downtown.

"I think that it might be a perception, but as far as a reality, I haven’t seen it myself," he said. "There are a couple hot spots. … There’s not a need for a comprehensive overhaul, but there might be a couple things that might help in a couple of bottleneck areas."

The hot spots include North Chestnut Street near the Community Agency Building, which houses a health clinic, and West Second Street near the stoplight.

Rhonda Frische works part time at her son Tanner Belcher’s store, CPR Cell Phone Repair, near the latter area. They both said the on-and-off issue in that area is employees of the businesses parking in front of the stores, where there are two-hour parking limits.

Earlier this year when the police department made Facebook posts about downtown parking enforcement, Frische said she noticed fewer vehicles in front of the businesses because the employees started using the free public parking lots.

"After we started raising awareness, I don’t see as big of a problem now," she said. "We just have to keep up the awareness portion and unfortunately the enforcement, too."

Liz Larrison, who owns two buildings downtown and runs Larrison’s Diner at the corner of South Chestnut and West Tipton streets, said she and her employees park in nearby lots so customers have a place to park near the diner.

Some other businesses in that area, however, park their vehicles in spaces along the street, which takes away spots for others.

"Our whole street is busy," Larrison said. "There are busy businesses all the way down the street."

Councilman Bret Cunningham agreed business-related vehicles shouldn’t be parked on the street.

Greg Reutter, owner of Tiemeier’s Jewelry Store at the corner of Chestnut Street and St. Louis Avenue, said he’s in favor of increasing the parking violation fee.

A two-hour violation is $3 if paid the day the ticket is issued or $5 afterwards. Subsequent violations on the same day are $5. There is a clause allowing a business owner to sign off on an issued parking ticket if the customer was at the business for more than two hours.

Five or more unpaid violations results in a vehicle being towed and the driver’s registration being suspended by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

"If you can get your employees and the owners not to park there, that’s going to take care of a big issue because they are still doing it and they are paying the $3 ticket," Reutter said, adding if the violation fee was higher, they would be less likely to park there.

Tara Thomas, who owns a new business, The Castle Games, on West Second Street, said she comes from San Diego, California, where the fee is $50. She said she was surprised recently when she got a parking ticket downtown and it was only $3.

"I don’t think it should go up to $50 here, but I think maybe $20 would be enough," she said.

Larrison said her brother is among those who live downtown, and he has expressed a willingness to pay for a parking pass if they were available.

Katrina Haney, who owns Revel Salon on West Second Street and the building it’s in and lives there, too, said Michigan City offers a parking pass to building owners.

"I think it would be good and a good incentive for people to live downtown or own buildings downtown because if you own, I think you take care of your building better," she said.

Robison said while walking around downtown with Berry, most of the parking violators were residents, so he said an annual or quarterly parking pass for them may be an option.

"That might help ease some of the enforcement burden," he said. "(Berry) could just see that window decal or whatever and just move along."

Cunningham, however, said parking passes or reserved parking for downtown residents or business or building owners could take up all of the downtown parking. 

Lucas also said that could create a slippery slope because people in other areas of the city may request the same thing where they live.

"I see that as a huge issue for residents, business owners," Cunningham said. "I don’t want to take a potential customer’s spot, either. It’s really trying to find that common ground."

Haney also said the two-hour parking in front of her salon doesn’t benefit some of her customers because they are there for a longer period of time. Many of them drive from outside the city, and some have received parking tickets for being there more than two hours.

Several people at the forum suggested bringing more awareness to the free public parking lots.

Roll said there are more than 400 parking spaces in those lots, which are marked with black and yellow signage with the name of the parking lot.

Attendees mentioned numbering, lettering or color coding the parking lots and adding directional signage would draw more attention to them.

Lucas gave the example of the Brown County community of Nashville having good directional signage to parking.

"I think a little bit of signage could go a long way so people understand parking here," he said. "I think some signage in the right places would be nice."

Lucas also said it would be beneficial for the businesses to promote the free parking lots on their websites and social media pages.

Roll said Seymour Main Street is in the process of installing five kiosks in the downtown. They are at Burkhart Plaza, Mellencamp Plaza, Crossroads Community Park and Steinker Platz, and the other one soon will be near the Walnut Street and Robertson Mill parking lots.

Those feature a map of the downtown showing where businesses and parking are located, and there’s a QR code that can be scanned. Roll said she could share a digital version with the businesses to include on their websites and social media pages.

Hubbard said moving forward, it’s important for the police department, chamber, Seymour Main Street and business owners to frequently post information about downtown parking options and bring awareness to the enforcement taking place.

Lucas agreed, saying the community approach is key to addressing the problem.

Hubbard said the retail development committee will work on a plan and present that to the council during its next meeting, which is set for 7 p.m. July 27 in the council chambers at Seymour City Hall.

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To share your thoughts on downtown parking or other issues in the city, the Seymour City Council meets at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at city hall, 301 N. Chestnut St. Meetings are open to the public and press.

Residents also can contact any of the seven council members via email. Addresses can be found online at


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