City Council Meeting Story

City Council Meeting on Huntsville Downtown Parking Changes  

             A meeting of the Huntsville City Council took place on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Huntsville City Hall.  At the meeting, a discussion as to whether the city should leave a newly implemented parking fee on University Avenue and 12th Street in front of the courthouse. 

            Among the parties against the implementation of this rule was Bill Daugette, County Commissioner for Precinct 3 in Walker County. 

            Daugette was surprised to hear this change to the parking rules, and believed the Council was rushing the ruling in too quickly.    

            “I saw the staff and various entities that are actually part of the square make recommendations and bring ideas and then a motion from the Council to basically just set all this aside and ignore them,” Daugette said. 

             Daugette also believed the city should want to work with the community more as opposed to being alone, as the policy effects the businessowners on the square.   

            “It was disappointing to me that perhaps the most impacted entity on the square never got a phone call.  We were not invited to be a part of the conversation and instead I almost feel like, and I don’t feel like this is disrespectful, I feel like the council took the easy way out,” Daugette said. 

            Alexis Halbrook, a lifelong citizen of Huntsville, agreed with Daugette and spoke against the bill. 

            “I’m just afraid like if one strip, two strips start being taxed or a paid kind of a thing, that this entire side of Huntsville you won’t be able to get to by car without paying, and it excludes people from the community” Halbrook said.

            Halbrook believed this ruling would discourage community members from parking because of the limited options without paying.  Instead, they suggested that the city invest more into the sidewalks or a bike lane to help traffic.

            Jon Strong, City Council member over Ward 4, stated that he voted against the ruling previously, and is still not in favor of it.

            “We need to implement this carefully and correctly.  To me this kind of came out very reactionary, we had businesses that brought a need that their customers need to park on the square longer than two hours, and by only changing the one-hour parking on the side of the courthouse, it doesn’t even seem like we’re accomplishing their original goals,” Strong said.

            Daiquiri Beebe, City Council member over Ward 1, supported the initial ruling.  Beebe spoke to businesses in downtown Huntsville who said that customers who need to park in handicapped parking sometimes can’t find parking and return home because of it.

            “Other small businesses down there sometimes you just have someone that just wants to stop in and grab something and there’s nowhere for them to park either, so those businesses are losing out on wealth,” Beebe said. 

            After the discussion a vote was held about whether to amend the ruling but was denied in an 8-2 vote. 

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