Merchant annoyed by parking restrictions
The city's decision to put parking restrictions on Baltimore Street to clear traffic for motorists bypassing the rebuilding work on Pratt Street has turned downtown merchant Judy Boulmetis into -- pardon me -- a mad hatter.
Boulmetis, co-owner of Hippodrome Hatters on Baltimore Street, called to complain after a meeting with city officials Wednesday during which they explained how they were going about the job of replacing the cement on Pratt in advance of next year's downtown Grand Prix race. She was less than satisfied by the answers she received -- particularly about the decision to bag the parking meters in front of her store without advance notice.
"It does hurt businesses to lose their parking," said Boulmetis after a briefing by deputy city transportation director Jamie Kendrick. She said the parking outside her store was restricted Friday and the meeting was only called Monday.
"Why wasn't there a plan in place? Why wasn't there an effort to meet with the business community?" she asked.
Kendrick said city officials did get Boulmetis' message Wednesday and would take another look at whether the parking curbs nearr her store are needed to maintain the flow of traffic on Baltimore in view of the expected extra traffic shifting over from Pratt.
"If we don't need the restrictions, we'll remove them," Kendrick said.
Michael Evitts, a spokesman for the Downtown Partnership, said he could understand Booulmetis' point but thought the city was listening to downtown business people.
"I give the city a lot of credit," he said. "They've been very pro-active."
Boulmetiis was less impressed.
According to the city, it has expedited certain street work that needed to be done anyway to get ready for the Grand Prix, an Indy-style race car event scheduled for next August at the Inner Harbor and around Camden Yards. The work on Pratt Street, where officials say the concrete is more than 30 years old, is the first phase.
"This is why businesses move," she said.