“Whenever there’s cars there, it kind of takes away from that awesome place, especially if visitors are coming through or potential people moving to Greenfield,” Crider said. “So I thought it would be nice if they would eliminate parking on there.”
Crider plans to pitch the idea to the Greenfield City Council Wednesday. Other stakeholders, however, say parking is tight downtown and eliminating parking could hinder people from visiting the park.
“If we take away that parking, it just makes it more inconvenient for people to stop,” said Retta Livengood, president of the Greater Greenfield Chamber of Commerce.
Livengood’s office is directly across Ind. 9 from the veterans park. The building also includes other offices and a meeting space.
Livengood said other ideas to consider include reducing the two-hour time slot for parking there, or eliminating just a few spots so the park is visible.
Mark Manship, president of Business Network International, said the group’s more than 20 members meet weekly at the Chamber building, and the spots in front of the park are always used.
“I’m not really sure,” Manship said of the idea. “I understand the gentleman’s idea of giving it more visibility, but parking is kind of at a minimum downtown anyway. I understand where he’s coming from; I think we can find other places to park. I don’t think it’s a huge deal.”
Business owners just north of the park say their customers may occasionally use the spots for parking, even though there is also parking on South Street and directly in front of their businesses.
Michelle Sprinkle of Sprinkle CPA said if parking in front of the veterans park is removed it would mean more congestion around her business and less access for her clients.
“The park is wonderful, but there’s just not a lot of parking downtown here for my clients,” she said.
James Faenzi, one of the owners of LRF Electronics, has no problem with eliminating parking in front of the veterans park.
“(For) the money they spent for it, it would be better to be visible than not visible,” he said.
Crider said his idea has been one year in the making. In the last year, he’s bounced it off former Mayor Brad DeReamer, an official with the Indiana Department of Transportation and city engineering and police officials.
Now Councilman John Patton is encouraging him to bring the idea to the council. After all, it would take the council to approve and ordinance to remove parking.
Crider, who served in the U.S. Army from 1955 to 1957, was not involved in the making of the park, which opened in 2010. His children bought him a brick, and he takes pride in the park.
“It’s just an awesome experience to me to go down and think of all these people that have not necessarily given their lives, but have served for the country,” Crider said. “And as much as we can showcase it, I think it’s a big deal for Greenfield.”
Two of the board members who helped create the park said parking spaces were never given much thought.
The park is at the site of the former city hall. It was a vacant lot for years before community funds were raised to make use of the area to pay tribute to veterans.
Rick Walker, president of Hancock County Veterans Park Inc., said he’s touched that Crider wants the park to be highly visible. Yet, many of the structures are tall enough that people can see them above parked cars.
“That’s really neat that he feels that strongly about it,” he said. “I just feel badly that my first reaction is that I don’t think it’s a problem.”
Bob Workman, another committee member, said there’s parking by the police department and along South Street for the memorial park.
“I can see where (eliminating spots on Ind. 9) would give better appearance to the park, but on the other hand, I’m not sure it would make that much difference because cars are only 4 feet high,” he said.
But Crider says while people can look over the cars into the park, the bronze statues and stones would be much more visible to motorists if there were no parking.
Crider is getting letters of support to show the city council. If people want to contact him about the parking spaces, he asks that they call him at 467-1426.