Navigating the busy streets of Uptown Athens, particularly the quintessential Court Street, presents an experience that captures both the vibrancy and frustrations of modern living.
In the midst of being surrounded by boutiques, lively cafes, restaurants, shops and a diverse range of entertainment lies a vibrant atmosphere with a challenge that resonates and tests the patience of many residents and visitors: the troubles of parking on Court Street. As vehicles circle, parking overflows and metered spaces fill, the perfect spot just seems out of reach.
“Adding parking is never a bad thing, however, the limiting factors such as available space and the prohibitive cost of building/maintaining parking garages inhibit this,” Ralph Harvey, Athens City police captain, wrote in an email.
There is an increase in parking needs and demands in Uptown Athens, Harvey said. It’s not only students, but also faculty, year-round residents and visitors who affect the limited parking spots on Court Street, he said.
Haley Barnhill, a first-year student in the pre-medicine program, said she thinks a contributing factor for the lack of parking in Uptown Athens is due to no parking lots with all the businesses aligned on Court Street.
“More business means more deliveries, more customers that want parking, more employees that need parking,” Harvey wrote in an email.
Deborah Fulks, owner of Court Street Coffee, said the addition of 10-minute meter parking spaces for grabbing coffee or food on Court Street are good options, but they are not perfect because space is so limited. Fulks also mentioned she thinks there should be a parking garage on campus.
There is a city parking garage, located at 7 E. Washington St., in Uptown Athens; however, the longest meters in the garage only allow for 20 hours.
“If there were more parking lots or parking garages that were more easily accessible, then the parking situation would likely be better,” Barnhill said.
Harvey said to avoid more parking issues on Court Street, the community has encouraged other reliable forms of transportation. The city encourages using bikes, bike racks, bike lanes, carpooling and using the city bus, which students can ride for free with their student IDs.
“The city has also converted all street meters to be able to use credit cards, pay with an app or with coins, thus providing additional ways to pay, encouraging proper use of the spaces,” Harvey wrote in an email.
The city is making efforts to increase safety for pedestrians and bikers with its Uptown Athens Improvements project which will build off and expand the existing bike paths.
As Athens continues to develop, addressing these issues will play a crucial role in maintaining the accessibility and appeal that Court Street embodies for everyone.
“We constantly look at options and try to balance the varied needs of the different users (such as) customers, businesses, contractors, OU, government, citizens, etc. and respond to them,” Harvey wrote in an email.