Parking illegally. Paying a monthly parking permit fee. Spending $10 a day to park at work. These are just some of the solutions employees who work near the closed Fourth Street garage have turned to when searching for a way to commute to work by car.
The 33-year-old garage closed for structural repairs Jan. 2, and construction was originally scheduled to begin in April. Before the shutdown, many businesses near the garage would pay for employee parking spots, but now employees say they're responsible for creating their own parking plan.
Elan Salon owner Alison McGlothlin said she rides her bike to work now that the garage closed. McGlothlin said she is glad the new garage is being built, but she would like to know the status of the project.
She said many of her employees now pay a $28 monthly fee to park in a lot across from the Monroe County Convention Center. However, she said the lot has limited spaces, and a newer salon employee was on a waitlist for months before obtaining a spot.
McGlothlin said the employee was paying $1 an hour to park at a meter.
"Normally I would wait six months to give someone a raise, but I felt so bad she was paying for parking I gave her a raise at one month," McGlothlin said.
McGlothlin said her older clients only schedule appointments before noon in an attempt to more easily find parking spots near Fountain Square Mall, where Elan Salon is located. She said the store gets daily calls from clients who say they are running late to their appointment because they can not find a parking spot.
Michael Clark delivers food for Best Taste, a Chinese restaurant located directly beside Fourth street garage. He said he spends $2-$10 a day to park for work. When he isn't paying for parking, Clark said he is illegally parking outside the storefront. He said half the time he pays and half the time he doesn't.
"If they let me know they have an order, I can leave right away," Clark said. "But if there isn't, I have to stay."
Clark said the construction around Best Taste affects both in-store and delivery business.
"It really makes a big difference on how easy it is to get inside the store," Clark said. "When less people come in to eat, less people choose us for delivery."
Sandy Stapp is a CFC Properties custodian who works inside Fountain Square Mall. Cook Group Incorporated owns CFC Properties, which is a company that manages residential and commercial property and owns Fountain Square Mall.
Stapp said her employers pay for her parking permit, but there are a lot of employees in the mall who have to pay for their own.
The lot where McGlothlin said her employees park is a 5-10 minute walk to the mall. The path leads through a covered alley within the construction site and then up a large hill to the mall entrance. Stapp said she worries this will become a strain for workers in the winter.
Stefano's Ice Cream owner Ahmad Popalyar said he's been parking in the Walnut Street garage and walking 10-15 minutes to get to work.
Stefano's Ice Cream is located in Fountain Square Mall. Popalyar said it's hard for customers to find spots because employees use the meters closest to the building to park for their work shifts.
"Any kind of restriction on the parking is a restriction on the business," Popalyar said.
McGlothlin said she believes there is a need for more parking near Fourth Street, but she wishes more people would bike or scooter to work. She said the lack of parking has caused even more carbon emissions because people have to circle the area multiple times before they can find a spot.