GREENFIELD — Gene Crider walked out of Wednesday’s city council meeting with a smile on his face.
While he didn’t get everything he wanted – Crider had requested all six parking spaces in front of the downtown veterans memorial be vacated to improve visibility and make visiting the park easier – he was pleased his voice was heard.
To show respect to the veterans, the council compromised with Crider and eliminated two parking spots in front of the park. The move was also in deference to downtown business owners who were concerned that so many premium parking spaces for their customers might be taken.
Crider, a 77-year-old veteran, is so moved by the park that he wants others to experience it even if they don’t leave their vehicles. In July, he asked the city council to make the change.
“I’d liked to have had all of it, but I understand,” said Crider, as he shook the hands of council members following the brief meeting.
The idea has been more than a year in the making. Crider said he approached former Mayor Brad DeReamer about the idea last year, and then the Indiana Department of Transportation before going to newly elected Councilman John Patton this year.
Patton invited Crider to pitch the idea at a meeting, and it was put into an ordinance.
It was clear Wednesday that several of the council members had done their homework. After Crider made a presentation in July, council members have been driving by the park and checking on whether the parking spots were in use.
While Crider says plenty of downtown parking has been added in the last few years, events held at the Greenfield Area Chamber of Commerce can mean overloaded parking in that area at certain times of the week.
Members of the Hancock County Veterans Park Inc. say parking was never given much thought when the park was built. It opened two years ago, and council members received a letter from the veterans park members expressing concern that if all of the parking spots were eliminated, it would hinder people from stopping to see the park.
“The first two (parking spots) really opens it up,” Councilman Judy Swift said. “I’ve driven by it, and I’ve looked and looked. I know the first two really highlights it a lot.”
Councilman Kerry Grass said he’s noticed the parking spots are rarely used. But when there’s an event at the Chamber, downtown parking is needed. Grass said doing away with spots could make it hard for people to find a place to park.
Grass and council President Mitch Pendlum voted against the motion to eliminate the parking spaces, while Swift, Patton, Gary McDaniel and Jason Horning were in favor of it. Councilman Greg Carwein was absent.
The ordinance must go through one more reading before going into effect. The next reading will likely be Sept. 26.
Crider said overall he was pleased with the experience of bringing a matter before the city council. Crider went to the city’s Citizens Academy last year, so he learned about the importance of getting involved.
Swift said after the meeting that if people driving south on State Street see the park because of the greater visibility, they might be able to pull into one of the four remaining parking spots to visit.