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Bremerton Chamber launches parking survey

With the city’s plan for handling downtown parking in the future on the table, downtown businesses are now determining how they will respond.

Organizations such as the Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce are gathering information from members and consumers as they prepare to take a stance for or against the implementation of pay-and-display parking meters.

The Chamber is gathering input from an online survey available at http://www.zoomerang.com/survey.zgi?p=WEB225EKL8ZPLJ for businesses, organizations and employees downtown. Others wanting to comment can take the survey at http://www.zoomerang.com/survey.zgi?p=WEB225EKYTZXAL. The survey will be posted until July 7.

“We hope that’s long enough to give people a chance to respond ... we may extend it,” said Silivia Klatman, executive director for the Chamber.

The survey went live Friday, June 16. After the city’s initial presentation, it seemed like the right thing to do for the Chamber.

“We heard from a number of our members who had concerns about it. We thought this was a better way to get (feedback),” Klatman said. “We think it’s important for the city to consider all that as they move forward. We can try to guess as much as we want about the impact on employee and volunteer recruitment but we can’t know unless we ask these folks, too.”

Klatman also has contacted chambers in other cities who have been through a change like Bremerton is facing for input on their experiences. She is aware that kind of feedback is limited in its meaning to Bremerton, however, as it faces unique circumstances.

“It is really (unique) because it’s a peninsula and a lot of it is taken up by government parking. All of that adds up to a very unique situation,” she said. “The shipyard has (recently) really made a good effort to ensure premium spaces aren’t taken up by shipyard workers.”

Early indications seem to show more of a negative or hesitant attitude toward the idea of metered parking.

“It would really be bad to put in the meters. We already have a problem finding spots,” said Virginia Stansberg, administrative assistant at Peninsula Services on Pacific Avenue. “It really will slow down our business.”

Alan Newberg, vice president of Collective Visions art gallery at the corner of Pacific Avenue and Fourth Street, feels a recent change to parking enforcement is the only real problem with the current situation.

“I don’t think (metering) is a bad idea but I think it’s premature. Right now, you can get closer to our business than (most) in the mall. There is a misperception. It’s rare I can’t find a space more than five spots away from the front door of the gallery.

“The system that has been in for several years ... is an enlightened system. In February, they changed that policy.”

Newberg said he was referring to the change from $10 to $25 tickets for parking violations and the elimination of any grace period.

“No free parking whatsoever will drive away customers from small businesses ... but not the larger businesses,” he said. “I had a conversation with Silvia. We think it’s a good idea to survey the businesses. In fact, a survey should have happened (sooner) but we are where we are.”

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