Downtown Conway parking, a growing dilemma - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

Downtown Conway parking, a growing dilemma

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(KATV) Conway - Growing pains in Conway creates a push for more parking. People who live in, or visit downtown Conway understands that challenge well.

The parking problem comes on the heels of a recently released Census Bureau report that Faulkner County is one of the top 100 fastest growing counties.

Parking isn't a new issue in downtown, but as the city grows, so is the problem. Business owners worry that customers will just keep driving if that can't find a parking spot.

When the sun rises, thousands of cars fill downtown Conway. Brad Lacy is the President and DEO of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce. He says, "You could go back 10 or 15 years and we certainly would not have had this conversation."

Lacy says they have attracted more businesses and residents over the past decade, but surface parking has not kept up. With every corner already established, the only way to go is up. He explains, "It would have to be a parking deck. That's the only way you can get that kind of density of parking."

When asked about the parking situation, Kathy Brooks says, "There is none. You have to park next to the railroad tracks because there is no parking anywhere, especially during the day. You have all the restaurants everywhere so there is none at all."

Brooks' family owns and operates Brooks Fine Jewelry, Kathy's upholstery and they manage about five buildings in downtown. She says more parking has been in talks for years and it's time because it will make way for more opportunities. "We need it really bad."

In January, Brad Lacy told the Conway City Council that parking is the biggest issue facing Conway. He has studied larger cities to benchmark off of and all have a parking deck. He says the entire city has to be attractive to stay competitive.

Lacy adds, "It's a good problem to have. I mean we're certainly not complaining because the reverse is not good at all." He concludes, "In downtown, people want to see shops, restaurants, residential, hotels and any one of those require parking to be addressed."

The final decision will be a collaborative effort with the city. Lacy says details like if they'll charge for parking and what part of downtown the parking deck will go, are crucial to it being a success. The Conway Area Chamber of Commerce also wants the community to get involved.