The Downtown Redevelopment Authority is polling members to get their views on leasing parking spots in a city-owned parking lot near the Mariah Moore House.
A request from Steamer Seafood Bowling Green to lease 49 parking spaces in a city-owned lot adjacent to the Mariah Moore House was pulled from an agenda of the Bowling Green City Commission earlier this month.
Bowling Green Chief Financial Officer Jeff Meisel said the city had a lease agreement in place with Mariah’s restaurant for parking spaces in the lot right before the building sold, but that agreement was never put into effect.
The spots have been leased in the past, but in recent years have just been open parking, he said.
About 69 spots in the parking lot are leased to John Ridley, owner of the Pushin Building, Meisel said. That left another 49 spots available in the lot.
Jim Steen, owner of Morris Jewelry and a representative of The District Downtown Business Association – a committee within the DRA – sent out an email last week requesting feedback from the committee and others who attend the committee meetings on the proposal to lease those parking spots.
He said there’s been a big response so far from people who say those spots should not be leased.
Steen said he plans to look into the issue further, seeking out city records on how parking spaces in the lot have been allocated in the past. The goal is to make sure that customers coming to downtown businesses have a place to park, he said.
“We’re all about everybody prospering downtown and making it good for everyone,” Steen said.
He said he’s concerned that about half the lot is already leased. He wonders what would stop the city from leasing parking around Fountain Square if the other half of the parking lot is leased.
“It’s going to set a precedent,” Steen said.
Dale Augenstein, who is set to open Steamer Seafood at the Mariah Moore House at the corner of State Street and Eighth Avenue, said that when he purchased the building, he asked about parking and was told by the city and the former owner that there was a lease in place for the parking spots. He requested the same lease.
“All I was asking was for them to continue the commitment that they had to the previous owner,” he said.
Augenstein said he wasn’t attempting to be greedy about parking spaces, but just wanted the same arrangement that the previous owner of the building was given.
Augenstein said that before the meeting where his request was to be considered, he learned that the lease had become a topic of conversation among downtown merchants.
He said he requested that the lease be removed from the agenda and revisited at another time because the City Commission was already dealing with issues surrounding Hitcents Park Plaza.
“I did not want my small parking request to be a distraction from anything they were doing,” Augenstein said.
He said he believes business owners in the downtown area are misinformed about the previous use of the parking spots.
Augenstein also owns the Pink Daisy Boutique on Fountain Square and said that he wants cooperation among the merchants.
“I think that all the merchants in the downtown area need to work together,” he said.