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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 meeting.

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.

Under Advisement

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 collectively."

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 corrected.

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 its action.

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.

MORE Articles...

Wednesday, May 20, 1953 - City Council Abolishes Center Parking
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 at Meeting

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