An aerial view of downtown Vassar’s business district along Huron Avenue (M-15) shows parking lots behind stores where merchants, their employees and their tenants who live above downtown businesses may park for free. Vassar City Councilman Dan Atkins said too many merchants, workers and tenants are parking in front of stores in Vassar’s resurgent business district, preventing visitors and the elderly from finding prime parking spots. (Photo by John Cook)

An aerial view of downtown Vassar’s business district along Huron Avenue (M-15) shows parking lots behind stores where merchants, their employees and their tenants who live above downtown businesses may park for free. Vassar City Councilman Dan Atkins said too many merchants, workers and tenants are parking in front of stores in Vassar’s resurgent business district, preventing visitors and the elderly from finding prime parking spots. (Photo by John Cook)

Curb appeal: Vassar owners, workers urged to move cars

An aerial view of downtown Vassar’s business district along Huron Avenue (M-15) shows parking lots behind stores where merchants, their employees and their tenants who live above downtown businesses may park for free. Vassar City Councilman Dan Atkins said too many merchants, workers and tenants are parking in front of stores in Vassar’s resurgent business district, preventing visitors and the elderly from finding prime parking spots. (Photo by John Cook)
An aerial view of downtown Vassar’s business district along Huron Avenue (M-15) shows parking lots behind stores where merchants, their employees and their tenants who live above downtown businesses may park for free. Vassar City Councilman Dan Atkins said too many merchants, workers and tenants are parking in front of stores in Vassar’s resurgent business district, preventing visitors and the elderly from finding prime parking spots. (Photo by John Cook)

Vassar City Councilman Dan Atkins says owners and workers at downtown Vassar businesses should do customers – and themselves – a favor and quit parking in front of those businesses.
“I’ve seen business owners and their employees parking out front, and I think we need to do something to let our customers park there, and not watch our elderly people have to walk 20 or 30 or 40 yards to get to the restaurant to eat because the owner of his establishment is parked outside – with his employees’ cars – in front of that business,” Atkins said at the council’s Nov. 7 meeting.
“I just feel we need to adjust something to allow the customers to be able to basically park right up at the front door, without having to drive down the street. Those parking spots were not intended for business owners or their employees to be able to park right up front with VIP parking – I’m sorry, but that’s wrong.”
Atkins asked City Manager Brian Chapman and council members to discuss the city’s parking ordinance in light of seven new businesses that have opened this year in a one-block stretch of downtown Vassar along Huron Avenue (M-15) from Cass Avenue to Main Street.
Atkins said tenants living in apartments above the downtown businesses also are parking in prime spaces in front of businesses “all day long.”
“If you rent an apartment downtown, I’m sorry, but you don’t get a free parking spot downtown, all day,” Atkins said.
Councilman Dan Surgent told Atkins that apartment dwellers may not worry about which parking spaces they occupy in Vassar.
“If you’re living in an apartment upstairs, what do you care?” Surgent asked Atkins.
Councilman Ted Gamet said “The ordinance is already in place (to enforce) two-hour parking downtown, if I remember right.” The ordinance doesn’t limit business owners, their workers or their tenants from using specific parking spots, though.
“Put a ticket on their (car) windows,” a woman in the audience urged the council.
Atkins’ father, the late Fred Atkins, and uncle, the late Bob Atkins, ran Atkins Hardware in downtown Vassar for decades.
“My parents owned a business downtown for how many years, and not one day did you see my dad or my uncle or anybody park out front, because that was his business,” Atkins said. “You just don’t do that. That’s for customers.”
The council meets next at 7 p.m. Dec. 5, and Atkins asked Chapman to prepare – for that meeting – “options to let our customers to park downtown in what those intended parking spots were for.”
Atkins thumped the council table twice when expressing his frustration with his contention that merchants and others are preventing elderly customers and visitors to a resurgent downtown Vassar from enjoying the best parking spots.
“You see cars parked there at 8 a.m. in the morning – I’m sorry, but that’s my route and I drive it every day – and I see that same vehicle there, and it’s been there for 10 hours, and it bothers me,” Atkins said. “It’s taking how many parking spots away from people that could have (visited Vassar).”
Mayor Roger Bacon said council will ask Chapman to review the parking ordinance and bring it in front of council for examination. Council then could decide whether to seek any changes.
“That’s the proper way to do it,” Bacon said.
“We will research it,” added Chapman.
Vassar Police Chief Ben Guile said the city ordinance places a two-hour limit on downtown parking spots “during regular business hours.” When asked if police will enforce the ordinance more strictly in light of Atkins’ remarks, Guile said “I’m sure Brian (Chapman) will take a look at it, and that’s where I take my direction from.”
Tom Gilchrist is a reporter for The Advertiser and can be reached at gilchrist@tcadvertiser.com

1 thought on “Curb appeal: Vassar owners, workers urged to move cars

  1. That is the problem with the parking situated the way it is. All those businesses along M-15 have very little parking (parallel). There just aren’t enough parking spaces to accommodate the respective businesses along that stretch.

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