The Okie legacy
Charges Fly, Words Pile Up
in Heated Debate at Meeting
Wednesday, 27 May 1953
[Articles transcibed from the official city newspaper
in Woods County. The frontpage headlines were dated Wednesday, May 27,
1953, Vol. 54, Iss. 215, Alva, Oklahoma.]
Center Parking Elimination Brings
Out Record Crowd Before the Council
More than 300 persons attended the citizens meeting held before the city
council, which was in special session, to hear discussion for and against
the recent action taken by the city authorities to eliminate center parking
facilities in the business district in Alva. There were arguments on both
sides of the question but no concrete action was taken by the council in
The council, presided over by Mayor Art Lane, called the special session
at the request of a number of local merchants. After the discussion which
included talks by W. J. Marshall, state fire marshal, J. B. Davidson, city
manager at Fairview, a number of farmers and Alva business men and women,
the council moved for adjournment.
Mayor Lane said today that he was sure the council would take under advisement
the discussion at Tuesday night's meeting by both proponents and opponents
to the action.
He said he was not certain as to what the council will do pertaining to
recommendations that a substitute parking system be provided by the city
authorities or to replace the center parking facilities.
"The council did not discuss the matter further after last night's
meeting," Lane said. "I'm sure that the councilmen will take under
advisement all the discussion but what will be their reaction is something
I can't anticipate because I have not talked to any one of them or the group
The meeting was officially called for the council chambers in the city
hall, but due to extreme interest and response arrangements had been made
to move the mass meeting to the American Legion hut.
Place Is Overheated
The hot issue turned out to be also held in a hot place since the air conditioner
in the Legion hut made so much noise that speakers could not be heard and
it was necessary, except for a few second intervals, to dispense with the
blower and the audience and councilmen and mayor nearly melted down, because
of the temperature rather than the heat of the arguments.
Cliff Mann, a former councilman and insurance agent, was the first to respond
to the mayor's invitation to all to state their views. He said that he was
not taking sides on the issue but would like to point out that any rash
statements by either side would only lead to trouble and urged that everyone
present present their views in a sensible and calm manner.
Some Favored Move
Bill Stites, local businessman, took the floor second in the discussion.
He pointed out that he felt sure the council would, if not already had,
seek some system of offering parking space in the business district to offset
at least a part of the space lost by the elimination of center parking.
Frank Houts, Alva Attorney, spoke in behalf of a number of local
merchants. He pointed out the loss of business to firms because of the loss
of customer parking space and asked that the facility be restored at least
until such time a substitute system could be provided by the city officials.
"With the loss of nearly 60 persent of our parking space in the business
district," Houts said, "It is reported by a number of merchants
that the loss of business last Saturday alone ran from 10 per cent in some
stores to as high as 40 per cent in others.
Dollar Volume Reduced
"If the average loss of dollar volume on one day to the stores in
Alva is noted at even 10 percent, it is safe to say that the elimination
of such parking facilities is amazing to this community."
Mrs. Heasley said she believed the appearance of the business district
was improved by the coucil's action and added that "surely some parking
lots could be provided" to relieve the loss of the space. She pointed
out Enid which has eliminated center parking as an example of providing
more adequate parking space "with parking lots where you can park all
day and not have to keep going back to put money in a meter."
Sherman Scott of the PMA office said he had not been here long but
he had lived elsewhere in small towns as well as larger communities and
that the traffic hazard elimination by the council's move was warranted
and that a better system will come fromt the decision in the future.
Council Is Blasted
Amon Davis, Alva farm machinery dealer, blasted the city authorities
for the action and accused them of trying to "run off the farmer."
George Murray, farmer, said he believed the action was justified
and it appeared to him that at least some of the local people who were complaining
bout the elimination of the center parking were selfish in the respect that
it "cut down" on parking spaces for their own cars rather than
being concerned.... (could not read the news copy for
next few lines)
Jerry Davison, department store manager, said the business volume
last Saturday was off several hundreds of dollars and that his store catered
primaily to the farmer trade and that the loss of center parking was detrimental
to that trade. He said he was unwilling to give up a single farmer customer
for the sake of a better looking business district.
Sank Anderson, rancher, admonished the council for its action claiming
he had been here since 1893 and that he had spent many dollars in Alva and
said that he was crippled, like others, and liked to be able to park on
the streets of Alva and visit as well as be able to drive to the places
where he was doing business.
He scored the council with several statements and then ended his talk on
a friendly plane inviting the alderman to attend a barbecue at his ranch
which he plans this summer.
Substitute Is Wanted
Bob Reneau, former councilman and jeweler, said that he believed
the question had been discussed throughly and that he undestood the problems
of the council having formerly served on the board. He said that he believed
the majority felt that a substitute s parking space or more in the place
of the facilities lost by the elimination of center parking.
Marion Monfort said he believed the farmers and the business men
and women in Alva should have had more time to consider the change exacted
by the council and urged that the council sescind its action on the emergency
clause which would delay the elimination of center parking for 30 days and
permit time for a substitute to be planned and made ready to put into effect.
J. B. Davidson, city manager of Fairview, was called upon and he
said that an adverse reaction was experienced when the city council there
eliminated its center parking but after 30 days the system was accepted
and "I doubt that you could now find more than four or five persons
in Fairview who would be willing to go back to center parking."
W. J. Marshall, state fire marshal, was called by Mayor Lane and
he pointed out the fire hazard and traffic hazard caused by the center parking
system and also added that a sharp increase in fire insurance rates would
be forthcoming in Alva unless the center parking hazard was eliminated.
He said he had not ordered the city authorities to eliminate the center
parking but he had discussed with them and recommended such an action. He
pointed out that he did have the authority to order such an action as it
was this duty as a state official to seek out fire hazards and get them
Marshall offered to try and answer any questions from the audience and
several were asked.
Discourtesy Irks Mayor
The place became noisy from members of the audience talking and when someone
yelled "sit down," to Marshal, Mayor Lane immediately rapped for
order and admonished those present to "give this man our attention
and respect or leave the room"
W. E. Eutsler, former councilman, urged the council to reconsider
Joe Mercer, local car salesman, said he thought a substitute should
be provided but admitted the elimination of center parking did eliminate
some hazards and offered a better appearance to the business district. He
said that parking is a necessity and that a substitute could be provided.
None of the councilmen took the floor to make any comment on the subject.
After the meeting none of the council offered any suggested course of action
in the matter, apparently leaving their decisions to the next council meeting.
Wednesday, May 20, 1953
- City Council Abolishes Center Parking
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Thursday, May 21, 1953 - Center
Parking Will Be Abolished Friday
Friday, May 22, 1953
- Several Give Opinions On City Parking
Wednesday, May 27, 1953 - Charges Fly, ..... Heated Debate