Business owners defend parking turf

POULSBO — Downtown business owners came in loud and clear Wednesday at a special Poulsbo Community Services Committee meeting that gave them the chance to voice their opinions over downtown festivals, especially those that take over Anderson Parkway.

“This is a huge concern,” JJ’s Fish House owner Judy Eagleson said. “They not only take our parking, they take our business.”

The meeting was scheduled in the Sons of Norway Viking Room to accommodate the more than 35 people who attended. Among them were Third of July planners Sandra Peterson and Mike McLaughlin and Viking Fest representatives Kathi Foresee and Ron Krell. Also in attendance were Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade and Poulsbo Police Department Sgt. Howard Leeming.

“I think we’re all looking to ensure the least impact on parking,” Mor Mor Bistro and Bar owner John Nesby said. He and other business owners expressed loss of customers and frustrations at festivals which use up Anderson Parkway. Many of them argued that while the city owns the parking lot, it was business and property owners who paid to improve it.

“Trying to make the festival better for downtown goers, we’ve absolutely chased them away,” Tizley’s Europub and Europa Deli owner Tammy Mattson said. “The only real parking we have in volume, 242 spots, is Anderson Parkway. Universally I hear the (Viking Fest) carnival needs to go.”

City Councilwoman and former downtown business owner Kim Crowder suggested using only local businesses, not outside vendors, in downtown festivals — a proposal that was met with applause. Others recommended dividing Viking Fest and the carnival to free more downtown space.

Viking Fest president Ron Krell said splitting the carnival from Viking Fest was not feasible, and forgoing the carnival altogether would not work financially.

“It takes a lot of money to put on Viking Fest,” he said. “Insurance for the festival alone costs $10,000.”

Quade said the council is ready and willing to address the downtown parking problem, but can’t do so until the public comes to a consensus. Paid parking and lot policing were brought up as potential solutions.

“As a council and mayor we are very supportive of trying to regulate downtown parking,” she said. “We all want to do what you all want us to do, but we have not reached a consensus on this yet... I think you’re going to get a myriad of opinions on this.”

Criminal activity brought in by the carnivals was also addressed, though Sgt. Leeming said the carnival brought in no extra deviant activity, and the new Third of July busing system reduced the number of drunk drivers in the area.

City Councilman Ed Stern said the committee wanted to hear what business owners had to say, and would continue the discussion during another special meeting Aug. 14.

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