Skip to main content

Athens village, library grapple with parking needs

March 15, 2019 10:04 pm

ATHENS — The village board of trustees held an informational meeting Wednesday to address parking concerns on Second Street.

Second Street — a two-lane road — is too narrow to accommodate parking on both sides of the street, village Mayor Peter Alberti said.

Village officials proposed to eliminate parking on the north side of the street in front of the library to alleviate congestion and make the roadway safer, he said. Staff from the D.R. Evarts Library, at 80 Second St., is concerned that prohibiting parking in front of the library will make it less accessible for patrons.

“Second Street is 29-and-a-half feet wide,” Alberti said. “Each lane should be 9 to 15 feet wide, making the road 18 to 30 feet wide.”

Because of the road’s small width, the mayor said parking should be permitted on one side of the street or be staggered with 200 feet between vehicles.

“That [staggering] has not been happening,” Alberti said. “It is restricting traffic flow. One car can pass through at a time.”

Athens library Director Sam Gruber found out about the proposed parking ban Monday.

“Our concern is that we don’t have a dedicated parking area,” he said. “A lot of patrons are older or have mobility issues. We also have parents that use the front area to drop off and pick up their kids.”

Parents can still pull-up to the library, Alberti said.

“It would be ‘no parking’ not ‘no stopping,’” the mayor added.

Patrons can use roughly three parking spots on Church Street, Gruber said, but losing the five to six spots up front would negatively impact librarygoers.

“The closest municipal lot is by the village building,” Gruber said.

Patrons would have to walk down a muddy, unlit alley to access the library from the municipal parking lot, Gruber said.

“It’s not really a viable resource,” he added.

Eliminating parking on the south side of Second Street is an alternative to losing the north side parking.

“We would prefer to keep the parking on our side, but losing either parking spots will be detrimental,” Gruber said.

The library is open later Mondays and Wednesdays until 8 p.m.

“We wouldn’t want people having to cross the street, especially when it’s icy out,” the library director said.

Additionally, the loss of the street’s south-side parking spots would increase the demand for north side spots to residents on the street, which would make less parking available for patrons, Gruber said.

“We’re a small library that offers a lot of programs,” he added. “This would just make things that much harder.”

The idea for parking restriction was not meant to be an attack on the library, Alberti said.

“The library thought it was aimed at them,” he explained. “That was not the intention. The intention is safety.”

Second Street serves as a truck route in the village, Alberti said, adding a few drivers have hit parked cars on the roadway.

“Two cars can’t pass through, let alone a fire truck,” he said.

The board will continue to discuss the issue at its next meeting at 6:30 p.m. March 27 at 2 First St.

Gruber is hopeful for a positive outcome.

“We had a good turnout [at the meeting] of board members, community members and patrons,” he said. “The board was receptive to our comments and expressed an interest in finding a compromise. We will do our best to work with the village board to find a solution without impacting our patrons.”