Streator council members were in agreement during Tuesday's meeting that parking in the city's downtown has become an issue.
The city is entering the 2020s with a reinvigorated downtown, with new restaurants and stores, including a new liquor store, Streator Liquors, replacing a spot formerly held by Streator Drugs.
Patrick Seaman, the owner of Streator Liquors, attended the meeting and requested the City Council have a single 10-minute parking space in front of the 109 E. Main St. location, especially since the location doesn’t have access to the back door of the former Streator Drugs.
This limits parking options to the front of the store unless customers plan to park at a lot in the back of the store and walk around to the front.
“We always used to allow things like this and we had them for doughnut shops and coffee shops but we did away with them because every store wanted their own special space,” said Councilman Ed Brozak. "We had no enforcement mechanism. You only had a sign. I would rather us take an approach of looking at the whole downtown area.”
The council opted to give Seaman a temporary clearance to have a parking spot in front of his business for his grand opening and a month after, tentatively planned for Friday, Jan. 24. This clearance will not be backed by an ordinance.
Councilwoman Tara Bedei said there’s at least one business on every block that could use a 10-minute parking space, but if the council grants one, they’ll have to do one for each.
“I’m afraid of opening that can of worms but we can still look at having one per block,” Bedei said. “Parking downtown is becoming a problem. Back when we did the downtown development plan in 2014, we split into three teams and one was looking at parking overall. Things were just starting to look better and we kicked the can down the road. And now we’re at the point where it’s a problem.”
Bedei said some businesses have owners and employees using street parking all day rather than parking away from storefronts, which is causing frustration with some of the other businesses.
No official action was taken Tuesday.
“Parking downtown is going to continue to become a bigger issue,” said Mayor Jimmie Lansford. “We’ve got various individuals that own their own stores allowing their parking lots to be used by everyone and if ownership changes, that thought process might change.”
Brozak said the city needs to standardize its approach to downtown parking.