[Regarding “Car Wars: The Ripple Effects of Downtown Asheville Parking Costs,” June 15, Xpress]: Having spoken with the director of Asheville’s Transportation Department, Mr. Ken Putnam, on more than one occasion over the last four years, I would like to add my voice to the Montford Neighborhood Association’s parking woes.
I live two blocks off of Trader Joe’s on the corner of Broad and Liberty streets with no off-street parking. Over the last six years, I have watched as the number of small and larger businesses have grown in the once-residential neighborhood. With that has come the frustration of chronic parking issues and escalating traffic volume. (Traffic on Broad Street has become increasingly dangerous, as it is now a high-speed route taken in order to avoid the lights at Merrimon Avenue and Chestnut Street.) In my conversations with Mr. Putnam, although he tentatively agreed with my assessment of the parking situation, his only response was to voice that the city is unable at this time to address residential parking permit concerns — with no indication when asked as to when they would do so.
All the while, the commercial enterprises in the neighborhood continue to grow their businesses, with the ensuing increase in traffic and parking problems echoing Montford resident Jon Sackson’s statement regarding concerns for its residents in your June 15 article. I recognize that many of our neighborhood commercial enterprises have little or no parking available to them. Other businesses and larger enterprises such as Trader Joe’s, which do have parking, are faced with lots that are now too small to accommodate their customer base and staff, and so given its proximity, Broad and Liberty streets have become their overflow parking area.
The reality that I now plan my grocery shopping for when I’m more likely to return home to a parking spot has become more than an inconvenience. In the meantime, like our neighbors in Montford, residents here will have to keep their fingers crossed and pray they have a place to park when returning home. I would very much like to see the city of Asheville step up and work toward a solution for its residents and local businesses alike, preferably sooner than later.
— Linda Levanti
Editor’s note: Xpress reached out to Putnam about the neighborhood parking situation and received the following response: “It is accurate that over the last several years, with ongoing residential and commercial construction projects not only in the Broad Street/Liberty Street community but throughout Asheville, there is an increase in traffic volumes and on-street parking demand along many residential streets, especially those streets that are adjacent to commercial areas. Many times, these pressures occur during the evening hours when residents and business patrons are competing for parking spaces. Unfortunately, we have very limited resources and capacity to address these issues. Residential permit parking programs can help minimize the parking issues; however, they require much enforcement to be effective. In the past, the Parking Services Division provided enforcement activities (and still does) in the Central Business District. We are now trying to expand into other parts of the city, and we are actively recruiting to fill vacant positions.”