Council May Limit Downtown Parking

RIDGEWAY – A proposed amendment to an ordinance restricting long-term parking in downtown Ridgeway was tabled at Council’s July 10 meeting, but not before considerable debate over the necessity of such an ordinance.

Ordinance 5-1001 already limits to three hours parking on Main Street, but Mayor Charlene Herring suggested an amendment to the ordinance to include police department property as well as the Cotton Yard, which the Town is considering leasing from Norfolk Southern Railway. Herring said the goal was to prevent drivers from leaving cars parked in town overnight for extended periods of time. Councilman Donald Prioleau, however, said the amendment was unnecessary and the number of cars parked overnight was negligible.

“You’re talking about one or two cars that may be parked down there sometimes overnight,” Prioleau said. “If (you’re going to be out of town), you’re going to be gone for two days, where would you want that car parked? Where there’s police protection.

“Several years ago, they had a limit on parking downtown,” Prioleau said. “That didn’t work out. I would hate to have somebody at somebody’s business, they come out and they’ve got a ticket.”

Councilman Russ Brown suggested the Town designate an area for parking more than three hours, with parking for more than one or two nights requiring permission from the Town.

“We don’t want the police to start bullying people,” Brown said. “I don’t think we need to abuse the privilege of having the lease and keep people off of (the Cotton Yard property).

“I think it can be curtailed a little bit,” Brown said, “but I don’t think we need to stop people and tell them what they can and can’t do.”

Prioleau said that the Town was “putting the cart before the horse” by attempting to place restrictions on property it doesn’t even yet have any rights to, but Herring said that in order for the Town to obtain the lease on the property, a tighter parking ordinance was necessary.

Police & Security

Following an executive session of more than two hours, Council emerged to authorize the hiring of a security officer to supplement the Town’s police force during special events. Council could not provide a figure associated with the costs of the temporary, as-needed hires, nor which private security company would be used.

Council also OK’d an oil change and a new set of tires for the Police Department’s Dodge Charger, at a cost of approximately $568.

Prior to the executive session, Councilman Heath Cookendorfer reviewed a list of proposed upgrades to the Police Department, including a new printer and a dedicated internet connection. Cookendorfer said a new computer was recently donated to the Department, but the internet was currently being accessed by using the library’s Wi-Fi.

“Jumping onto someone else’s network, you run some risks,” Cookendorfer said. “You open yourself up. It’s a lot easier to hack.”

Council took no action on the upgrades.

Restaurant

Town Council will soon be looking for a new tenant for the Old Town Hall Restaurant property on Main Street, as the property’s most recent tenant, Vesha Sanders, closed up shop and began the process of moving out last week. As of Council’s July 10 meeting, that search had not yet begun.

“They still have a time frame where they can renew their lease,” Brown said, “but they probably won’t. We’re going to give them their time to move out.”

Movie Night

Ridgeway plans to hold its first free movie night on Aug. 1 and is looking for sponsors for future films. Cookendorfer said the rights to show a movie in public cost between $300 and $400. Council voted to foot the bill for the Aug. 1 movie, which will be shown on the side of the fire station.