JEFFERSON-Parking now comes at a premium in downtown West Jefferson.
That news comes after county commissioners voted Monday to use $60,000 in taxpayer funds to foot a portion of the bill to help West Jefferson expand the town’s parking options.
For years, shortage of parking spots on Jefferson Avenue and its adjoining intersections was only a reality during holiday weekends or with the arrival of yearly festivals, such as Christmas in July.
But the town is growing and its reputation as an esteemed arts district accentuated by a wealth of merchants and offerings has made the downtown more than just a bump in the road on the way to Boone for travelers and locals alike.
On Monday, town officials approached county commissioners to seek funding for a new parking lot that will be constructed across from Reeves Law Firm and Badger’s Funeral Home.
The proposed lot will add 60 to 70 parking spots in the downtown. Altogether, the project will cost $213,000.
Moments before passing a motion to appropriate $60,000 to the town of West Jefferson to help pay for the new parking lot, Commissioner William Sands added his two cents on what he felt a was hefty price tag for the additional amenities.
“Every progressive town and city is having problems with parking,” said Sands, who would stand as the lone dissenter in the motion and vote. “$60,000 is a lot of money to me. I really don’t feel about it right now. You all have done a tremendous job up there in making the town of West Jefferson more inviting for people to come.”
Sands cited the county’s other growing needs as his reasoning for voting against the measure. He tallied upcoming expenses the county would soon incur including the construction of a fire training center, a new or expanded community college and recurring costs for the school system.
Commissioner Gary Roark defended his initial motion for the vote by stating more parking in the downtown area would have a residual effect for the county.
“For every dollar that is spent in West Jefferson, we benefit just as much as the town of West Jefferson would,” said Roark.
“We have to look at what would benefit the county as a whole. If people can’t find a parking space in West Jefferson, they will drive on to find somewhere else to shop.”
Sands said he doesn’t necessarily agree with Roark’s overarching viewpoint that lack of parking prevents people coming from the town.
“I personally think that right now $60,000 for us with what we’ve got facing and in fairness to to others is just too much,” said Sands.
The motion eventually passed 4-1.
This wasn’t the first time the county partnered with the town for a new parking lot. Previously, the county threw its support behind the construction of a new lot behind Badger’s Funeral Home that brought 45 additional spots to the downtown.
Reach Jesse Campbell at 336-846-7164.