Mayor asks for patience over downtown parking problems

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 18, 2007

AHOSKIE – Patience is the key to success for all parties.

That was the message delivered Tuesday by Ahoskie Mayor Linda Blackburn after a concerned citizen addressed town council members about parking downtown.

Willie Watford spoke during public input as a representative of We Are All Connected, a local business that has an office on North Mitchell Street.

Watford said he felt parking laws were being enforced “unevenly” and asked the town for patience as the business tried to work through the issues of rapid growth.

“We have 160 employees and realize laws must be obeyed, but some officers relish citations,” Watford said. “Because of the rapid growth of our company, we are requesting the same concern given to other businesses in the area.”

Watford said recently an unmarked vehicle was stopped on the street making a delivery to the business and was approached by an Ahoskie Police Officer. According to Watford, the driver was “harassed” because there was no name on the truck.

Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh asked to address the situation.

“I was called the day of the incident and I checked with the officer,” Fitzhugh said. “All the officer did was check to see why the truck was parked in the roadway. It was the proper thing to do.”

Fitzhugh went on to say, “We have treated everyone fairly with proper warnings.”

The chief said he had sent his lieutenant out to discuss parking with every business downtown. Weeks after, he sent a sergeant to again remind people of parking laws.

After the situation had been addressed, Fitzhugh said the department began issuing “town friendly” citations.

Blackburn said the town and businesses along Railroad and Mitchell streets were working together to alleviate parking problems.

“We have to exercise patience and work together to alleviate the problems,” she said. “It’s a good problem to have, that we have so many people downtown we’re trying to alleviate a parking problem.”

The town board took a step to address the problems during the new business portion of the agenda when they adopted changes in parking on the two streets.

At the recommendation of Town Manger Tony Hammond, the board designated a handicapped parking space at the south end of Mitchell and Railroad Street and designate the next two parking spaces as two-hour parking.