Three of Downtown's most consistent issues – Hemming Plaza, parking and trash removal – are rising higher on the city's list of priorities, according to reports given Tuesday at the Downtown Vision Inc. quarterly operations meeting.
Jennifer Hewitt-Apperson, DVI director of district services, said the city procurement department is finalizing the language for a request for proposals seeking a private operator to manage and program Hemming Plaza.
The city issued an RFP for Hemming Plaza in July, but the language and requirements were such that even groups that helped draft the request declined to respond when it was issued.
On Sept. 12, City Council President Bill Gulliford directed City Procurement Director Greg Pease and his staff to prepare a second RFP as soon as possible. Gulliford said he wants a contract awarded and an operator in place by Jan. 1.
Hewitt-Apperson said the new request could be ready to issue early in November.
City Parking Director Jack Shad said a campaign is underway to address the issue of motorists who are violating parking regulations by feeding coins into a meter after the parking time allowed at the meter has expired.
"We are focusing on those who are abusing the system," said Shad.
The city will soon mobilize a new system that can automatically recognize a vehicle that has been parked too long at a meter by its license plate, he said.
Shad also addressed the lack of signage that could help motorists locate parking lots and garages.
"We have some, but not enough," he said.
Karen Nasrallah, city redevelopment manager, said legislation was enacted to approve a Downtown way finding signage package, but purchase and installation of the signs was never funded.
DVI Executive Director Terry Lorince said retailers should provide parking information to their customers through flyers and business cards.
Hewitt-Apperson said DVI has been working with the Solid Waste Division of the Public Works Department to solve issues regarding collecting trash from containers on the sidewalk.
The city has a system in place for business owners, such as restaurants, without access to large trash containers to pay a monthly fee per container and have the city pick up their refuse six times per week.
Businesses are charged per container, but in some cases are paying for fewer containers than needed to hold all of their trash.
"Some users have been putting out more trash than they have been paying for," said Hewitt-Apperson.
She said Public Works is working with City Council to introduce legislation to implement sanctions, including warnings and then fines, to ensure compliance with the regulations.
Downtown Ambassador Program Manager Bill Wimmer said that with shorter daylight as the year nears its end, Downtown workers may be escorted by an ambassador from their office to their car in the evening. The service is available until 8:30 p.m. Monday-Friday by calling (904) 465-7980.