And a little frustrated.
“They say ‘Yes, we think people are abusing parking,’” said council member Ralph Prescott. “And ‘Yes, we need some management.’ And ‘Yes, regulating parking to two or three hours would be a good thing.’ Then you ask are you in favor of enforcement? ‘No!’”
The comment drew knowing chuckles from his fellow councilmen.
“It’s like a gun with no ammunition,” he added.
The ammo that Prescott is seeking would be a concrete parking management plan which would limit hours spent on the Public Square in hopes of preventing college students and downtown employees from leaving their vehicles in prime spots for an extended period of time.
Council member Sam Norton suggested that the addition of a part-time code enforcer could provide some help, as well as assist current officer Tim Martin in any other violations taking place in the area.
‘”I think we could use it out of the sheriff’s funding to hire at least one part-time enforcement officer,” he said. “... The staff is in a reactionary mode, but not necessarily a proactive mode.”
City Manager Bill Lewis said an extra employee probably isn’t needed since he hasn’t received any requests from Martin.
Norton, a downtown business owner, said he’s seeing some violations go uncited.
“Last month he had over 200 items he had to report,” he said. “He is stretched really thin.”
Some council members said they would not be too eager to initiate a parking crackdown.
“I think we’re a tourist town,” said council member Johnny Ariemma. “We’ll create a bad vibe, a bad environment, if you start marking tires for two or three hours. I’m not convinced we have a parking problem at this point.”
Council member Terry Peters pointed out that the council recently financed a $20,000 study in order to stay ahead of any potential problems.
He added that empty spots may become even harder to come by since North Georgia College & State University recently purchased the old baptist church property on South Chestatee Street.
“We were looking at future needs,” he said. “And we have on the horizon 60 spaces going away.”
He added that the death of Woodrow Parks might also result in loss of spaces that were generously provided by the downtown store owner for years.
“That’s 25 spaces right there,” Peters said. “I think the conventional wisdom is those will go way.”
Ariemma said the answer lies beside the often overlooked city-owned building on North Park Street.
“I have a big question that I never have had answered, ‘Why is the kindergarten parking lot taboo?” he said.
“Nobody’s going to walk up that hill to the parking lot,” said council member Gerald Lord.
“It’s probably about the same distance [as most spots],” replied Ariemma.
Meanwhile, Prescott encouraged his fellow council members not to shy away from enforcement, since Dahlonega is one of the few tourists towns to offer free parking.
“This is the only place I go to that’s free,” he said.
“And it’s a wonderful thing, man,” said Ariemma. “I love Dahlonega, Georgia.”