NEW ALBANY, Miss. (WCBI) – City officials in New Albany say business is thriving downtown but finding a place to park is becoming a hassle. Now the city plans to make improvements that will help ease the parking crunch.
Parking on Bankhead Street in downtown New Albany is limited. Now merchants are resorting to parking in the middle of the busy street. Mayor Tim Kent hopes the new improvements will benefit business owners and shoppers.
“We plan on filling the ditch in, putting in the big the seven foot culvert. Fill those in and pour sidewalks in to downtown and give people a path to follow to walk on back into downtown. When we get that done, we’re going to encourage the downtown merchants to park here and leave room for customers,” says Kent.
The unused parking lot is behind the library and provides hundreds of parking spaces. Retail store owner Tommy Sappington says he has no problem parking in the lot and hopes others will follow suit.
“What we’re trying to do is get everyone to be a better neighbor. If you’re capable of walking, walk a little further. Like myself, I’ve been parking in this parking lot and just trying to set a precedent of getting people to park here,” says Sappington.
New Albany’s parking committee also intends to increase pedestrian awareness with signs and markings. Kent hopes merchants, employees and shoppers can see the benefits of parking near the library.
“We all need more exercise than we get and it’s not that far. Probably a quarter of a mile into downtown from here, a few hundred feet. So we’re going to see if we can at least encourage people to try this and see how they like it,” says Kent.
City Leaders are also considering additional parking space near Cooper Park and behind City Hall. New Albany plans to have the parking improvements completed by May 1st.