In a Facebook post shared on Monday, Summerville Mayor Wiley Johnson told constituents that he wants the town to explore adding more parking garages to the downtown area to grow the number of businesses.
He suggested three possible locations for a new garage: a parking lot on South Main Street and East Doty Avenue, behind some businesses, another parking lot on South Cedar Street and West Richardson Avenue and a third possible location next to the Summerville YMCA.
“These folks have got to have foot traffic and foot traffic, by and large, means parking because we don’t have a lot of apartment buildings close to downtown,” said Mayor Johnson. “We’ve got to plan to keep the downtown area vital.”
The town opened its first parking garage over ten years ago but some say that even with the garage, surface parking lots and street parking, there is still not enough of it.
“I think there’s probably a need for more parking,” said Sherry Martschink, the co-owner of Antiques and Artisans, located on West Richardson Avenue. “Whether it’s a garage or a lot or what, I don’t know but I think there probably is a need for it.”
Another business owner in the downtown area agreed.
“A lot of our customers say I had to go around the block three times [to find parking,]” said Diane Frankenberger, owner of People, Places & Quilts. “It’s a great problem. It’s a problem most small towns would love to have.”
Several people commented on the mayor’s Facebook post and wrote that they think parking is not a problem in the area and said that the town’s parking garage is never full.
The mayor said that the town needs to plan for future growth now and disagreed, saying that garage is often full during the evening.
“We have a lot of businesses that stay open after hours so anybody that doubts that business is going on when it gets dark needs to ride around downtown and they will see there are very few parking spaces left,” he said.
Mayor Johnson says he will present the idea at a town finance committee meeting on Monday, Feb. 11.