Question: From Alan
What is your plan or answer to downtown parking? Everyone in the last election was going to fix it. Fix it they did…..No more parking places and now we have to pay to Park. Why in the world should we have to pay to park when we are trying to patronize downtown merchants?
Answer: Unfortunately I don't have a viable plan or answer. I agree with you that nobody wants to pay to patronize a business. As you and I both know there is just not enough "real estate" for each business to have a parking place. So the decision was made for the parking deck. This is a direct quote from the source of the parking deck. "This is a good question. It has a real answer and is due the consideration. Bottom line. The City of Blue Ridge does not have the resources to build a parking deck. Or, the land to build a parking deck in a place where the public will use it. Marietta comes to mind. The city took a huge amount of pressure to build parking decks. They did. They were under managed and now they had to hire a firm to run them. We declined due to the nature of the situation with the public. My attorney is also part of their administration and we had a conflict. The BR parking issue has existed for roughly 5-10 years. Many such as Bo Chance and others have created feasibility studies. The city just needs an operator that people recognize. My brand in Atlanta is known as no nonsense. We boot very aggressively. That’s one of the reason you see the higher honor rate payments.
—paying to patronize a store is not the stores fault. The stores/restaurants do not have parking lots. This means people have to use private property to park during busier times. I explained this easily to ATL city counsel and me time. If I were to come in at peak times and take a table of four and only drink water and leave no tip, then that is free parking. If I ate and drank and walked out on a tab then that’s free parking. Hotels are the exact same business model. You need a bed. Cars need a parking space. The uses are endless in comparison. I used my own private capital to produce and preserve the parking across from the train. When people do not pay I am actually a victim of theft. Just because “in the old days parking was free” doesn’t mean that there is no costs associated with the insurance, mortgage, and lighting that keep their vehicles safer.
—In summary. The city has what it has. People like us and John Kiefer recognized the parking deficiencies. We invested in helping produce more capacity. Now, there is a question about the paying to park? Why? It is an asset that must be paid for no different. If we folded the parking into the leases then the stores couldn’t afford the rent. Therefore the city would suffer. Does that help you? I’m happy to continue. Bottom line. Parking can make or break a destination city such as BR. Without it the city would have a horrible user experience and people would not return.
Question: From Becky
Are you a heavy drinker. I have seen you before at the Whistle Stop or whatever it is now?
Answer: Unfortunately I was a heavy drinker. I will not deny it. Right now I'm a "Recovering Alcoholic" I stopped drinking 3 days after my sister passed away from Pancreatic Cancer. I stopped drinking "Cold Turkey" on Nov 8, 2020 at 4:20 pm. Since then I have been through the VA's version of the 12 step program and counseling. I have not had a drink nor craved any alcohol since that date.