Downtown Meridian parking concerns

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Some business leaders in one part of downtown are asking for answers about problems with parking. It's been two years since the initial ground work started on the multi-million dollar Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience in downtown Meridian. As construction nears an end, some neighboring business owners want to know if their parking concerns will do the same.

"It use to be double the parking, it's half now," says Jean's restaurant owner, Jamie Johnson. His restaurant has been open for 60 years.

"My thoughts are that more planning should've gone into it before they started," says Johnson. "Other than that, I think that it'll wind up being something good for us."

Other business owners along Front Street, who we spoke with, agree.

"We're hoping that there'll be something great that the city does," Linda Arledge, who is an assistant manager at the Crooked Letter Shop," and make more parking especially for the entertainment center or we're going to be in trouble!"

When it comes to parking in the area across from the construction site, city leaders say it's an indication of progress. However, the question is whether or not this will lead to a cost that others will have to pay.

To address the problem, one Front Street business owner is suggesting to city leaders for police to start writing parking tickets.

"Right now we do not issue tickets in that area, " says MPD Chief Benny Dubose. "We don't do this due to the construction and everything that's going on in front of the Arts and Entertainment Center.'

Chief Dubose says the ticket writing along that stretch of Front Street will likely resume when recommendations from a downtown traffic study are put in place.

"We're still waiting for our traffic study," says Mayor Percy Bland. "We're waiting on our flow study to come back that we have not received yet. When that comes back we'll have more information on how we're moving forward."

"We may change some of the streets into one or two way travel," says Dr. George Thomas, who is president of the Meridian City Council. "We may add or eliminate some downtown parking spaces. It just depends on what the traffic has to be.'"

Meridian based LPK Architects is handling the downtown traffic study. City leaders expect the study results to be released by early next year. Until then, business owners in the area are looking to the future.

"It has affected business," says Johnson, "but we try to hang around until everything's done."