A local business owner has asked the Sampson County Board of Commissioners to reconsider its reserved parking spot in downtown Clinton, citing the need for every available place in the area and the space’s lack of regular use.
Sessoms Jewelry president Gary Wayne Hall raised his concerns during the public comment portion at the end of Tuesday’s regular Board of Commissioners meeting, saying every spot that can be made available to the public is crucial for customer parking, especially as the downtown grows.
County commissioners approved having a reserved parking space outside the Sampson County Courthouse by way of a split vote in June.
Hall listed a number of downtown businesses, including his own, as well as new additions Abbigail’s and Burney’s Sweets, along with the newly renovated space at Dr. Max Raynor’s Professional Eye Care office on the corner of Main and Lisbon streets. Sessoms said traffic to those businesses and the many others in the downtown, accompanied with regular court traffic, meant parking was always at a premium.
He asked commissioners to consider giving up the spot, which could allow for another space for customers. Hall said he noticed that the spot was not being utilized so it might be put to better use through re-designation.
“I would ask you to consider redoing it,” Hall said to the board.
No comments were made by the board, other than Chairman Jefferson Strickland replying that the matter would be taken under advisement.
Hall is not the only person who has shared opposition to the reserved spot, with at least two commissioners opposing the designation of the reserved space at the onset of discussions months back.
A sudden motion made to reserve the special space for commissioners was made at June’s regular meeting by Commissioner Albert Kirby, a motion that came as a surprise to Strickland and drew the ire of Commissioner Billy Lockamy.
“This is a matter that has to do with parking at the courthouse,” Kirby said at the time. “I think it’s time that commissioners have a spot in the parking area for commissioners. To that end, I want to make a motion that we have one of the parking spots designated for county commissioners to park.”
The spot is located in the parking lot between the Courthouse Extension (old bank building) and Vance Street where judges have reserved spaces.
“I don’t think it’s necessary,” Lockamy replied at the time. “I’ve been a county commissioner five and a half years. I don’t need to park around the courthouse. The courthouse is pressed for parking anyhow and it’s for the convenience for those that serve on the court and employees. I don’t think it’s worthwhile.”
Commissioner Harry Parker said he did not see why commissioners should not have a spot, but Lockamy answered that the spot was “a waste” and “a nuisance.”
The vote came 3-2 to approve the reserved space, with Kirby, Parker and Jarvis McLamb voting for it, Lockamy and Chairman Jefferson Strickland against. In the month since, the parking space issue has been fodder for many who have posted comments on Board of Commissioners stories.
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