One of the many changes taking place in our beloved city -- the new government complex -- seems to be slowly moving along. There's actually a wall going up now. But I became concerned when I heard about a recent meeting of Department of Transportation and City of Thomson officials. I didn't attend that meeting, but I hear, and have confirmed, that plans are to transform the current parking lot of the Depot into a two-way street. The only available parking spaces will be parallel parking on the storefront side and one line of angled parking alongside the Depot. Since our office is located in that spot, I can tell you, there's no way that will be adequate. This parking lot is used by customers and employees of Ivery's, The McDuffie Mirror, The Wilson Co., C&S Variety Shop, the Cooperative Extension Service, Cherry Bekaert & Holland accountants, J's Wig and Beauty Supply, Stephanie's Style On, It's a Southern Thing, the soon-to-be-opened Hogie Joe's and one other business I don't know the name of (there's no sign) along Railroad Street, and H&R Block across Main Street. Count them -- that's TWELVE businesses not including the Depot. Ivery's business all by itself overflows the parking lot on Fridays and Sundays.
Any afternoon there is an event at the Depot (including Rotary Club every Thursday), and on Sundays when Ivery's is full, we are lucky to find a parking spot behind the D.A.'s office on Journal Street.
Almost every single night, there is some event at the Depot that fills the parking lot. On week-ends, I've seen the building filled perceivably above the maximum capacity allowed. Nights also are when H&R Block, The Wilson Company and Stephanie's have quite a few customers.
My point is that day and night, most days a week (except Monday when Ivery's and several other businesses are closed) the parking lot as it is now cannot adequately handle the number of cars. It is especially difficult for the elderly and physically handicapped who cannot park close to the buildings. Add the much-anticipated business of Hogie Joe's, any potential new business opening in the empty buildings, and business being brought with the new government complex, and it makes absolutely no sense at all to take away a single parking space, much less two rows of them.
City Administrator Don Powers told me the decision was made for the safety of the pedestrians. He said right now, there "basically is a road running through a parking lot." So, what's it going to be after it's changed? I can only imagine elderly customers having to walk across a two-lane street of traffic to get to Ivery's.
Mr. Powers also said there is "plenty of unused parking 200 yards from your office" behind the museum. So, he's saying he wants me and everyone else to walk across Main Street several times every day. Regular readers of this column already know my feelings on that topic. And I certainly don't want to see ANY elderly person attempting that feat.
Mayor Kenneth Usry assured me that the plans will be presented to the merchants along Railroad Street before a final decision is made. I'm sure he's as interested as I am to hear what they have to say. I plan to take my coffee -- it sounds like it'll be a l-o-o-n-g meeting.