By Jesse Wood
June 17, 2014. While only one person (Hospitality House Director Tina Krause with thanks for outside agency funding) spoke before the Boone Town Council at the public hearing regarding the town’s 2014-15 fiscal year budget on Monday, two people spoke in the public comment portion of yesterday’s meeting about the ongoing parking situation at the Marketplace lot in downtown Boone.
Tom Hanna of LMS Parking said that of the 60 properties that LMS Parking manages, the Marketplace lot (in between Murphy’s and Mellow Mushroom) receives the bulk of grievances.
“Why does it just seem to be that lot?” Hanna asked.
Hanna mentioned that the “Customer Only” signs scattered through the middle of the Marketplace lot “need to go” because folks that miss the signs at the entrance of the parking lot assume that the parking lot is for whatever establishment they are about to be patronizing.
While noting that he’s been in the lot-management business for 20 years, Hanna also said that the flood of signs are being assumed by the parking violators beforehand as a “scare tactic” – one with no real consequence leading to a boot or tow.
In summing up his thoughts before the board, Hanna asked for help from the Boone Town Council in how to stop folks from parking in that lot.
Jan Winkler of the Winkler Organization that owns the Marketplace and nearby Wilcox lot spoke on behalf of LMS Parking and on wheel locking (as opposed to towing) in general.
While adding that hardly anybody offers a thank you when their car is booted, Winkler said that her company prefers booting over locking because it’s cheaper and folks don’t have to find a ride to wherever their vehicle would be towed.
“As a landlord, you can’t make everyone happy. My concern is to make tenants happy, those tenants in that building,” Winkler said.
As did Hanna, Winkler said that the Winkler Organization has “done everything” and “spent a fortune” on buying, installing, rearranging and removing signs. She mentioned that signs in the middle of the lot stuck into concrete “look awful” and people back into them all the time.
“You are the leaders. Tell us what you want us to do and stick with it,” Winkler said.
She asked for the council to create some sort of guidelines and to make a thoughtful decision.
“At this point, I don’t know what to do. I am just tired of listening and hearing about it as I am sure you are to,” Winkler said.
The Marketplace lot is known for its history of wheel locking (at least by locals), and altercations between visitors and lot staff have made the news for the past two years and more so in the past few months. In May, a LMS Parking representative and citizen spoke about an altercation that occurred on the lot before the Boone Town Council.
After hearing of the problem, Councilwoman Lynne Mason requested putting this issue on the June agenda for discussion. She made her request on June 6.
Two days later during the First Friday Art Crawl in downtown Boone, the Boone Police Department arrested a LMS Parking lot attendant after he was observed shoving a local attorney who stepped in to advocate for a out-of-town woman with two kids at her side who unintentionally illegally parked. The attendant was charged with assault. Read more of that incident here.
The council will discuss this parking matter at its Thursday, June 19, meeting.