AVON – Newly elected Avon Town Justice Jeannie Michalski’s court night has raised parking concerns on Genesee Street, and solutions do not appear to be quick or easy.
Two owners of Genesee Street businesses and a candidate for Village Trustee appeared at the Village Board meeting on Monday to explain the impacts of monthly court nights on their businesses, when over 130 defendants appear in court, possibly with an attorney or public defender, and everyone needs to park somewhere.
“I can’t get a single customer who can pull in anywhere near my restaurant because people waiting to go to court have parked in every parking spot on Genesee Street,” said Autumn Welch, owner of the Avondale Pub. “Just last Thursday I was working on the floor, and I can tell you I had about a third of the people in that I’d normally have on a Thursday. That just once a month is a big hit.”
Leann Hill of Edward Jones and Trustee candidate Ann Younger attended the board meeting and echoed Welch’s concerns.
Though the Avondale now has what Welch describes as ‘healthy competition’ with the Avon Inn, which reopened New Year’s Eve, she says that having more store fronts open will bring people out in general.
Previous Town Justice Peter Piampiano held court on Tuesdays, starting as early as 2 p.m. Upon taking office on Jan. 1, Michalski, taking into account the availability of Assistant District Attorneys (DA’s) to prosecute cases and Assistant Public Defenders (PD’s), set court night to the third Thursday of the month, starting at 4 p.m. Michalski says she is open to changing court night to prevent downtown parking jams.
“I’m open to suggestions and open to reaching out for solutions,” said Michalski. “I really wish I had a way to make everybody happy. But we need a DA and we need a PD, so it’s three schedules, not one. I was given the third Thursday of the month to work with, too, not even just ‘Thursdays.’ I originally looked at doing court on Mondays, but there are so many Monday courts in other municipalities that no DA was available. I can’t do Tuesdays and I know the impact would be even greater on Friday nights.”
Michalski, who also has a law practice in Avon, says that in the immediate future she will be sending a letter to defendants instructing them to park in municipal parking.
“One thing that we will do is include a letter with court paperwork instructing defendants to use the municipal parking lot instead of Genesee Street,” said Michalski. “We can say that parking will be enforced. I of course want to have as little impact as possible on local businesses, I am a local business.”
However, Welch says that drivers will ‘do what everyone does, take the shortcut,’ and Avon Village Mayor Tom Freeman said that the Village will be renovating that parking lot later this year. Welch and Hill said that it would be best if court was changed to a different night.
“Mondays and Wednesdays would be ideal,” said Welch. “I can’t give stuff away to get people out on a Monday or Wednesday night. It’s just hard because we’ve been there 12 years and we’re looking to stay put.”
Each of the Village Trustees, Mark McKeown, Bill Zhe, Timothy Batzel and Rob Hayes agreed to call Michalski personally and see what can be done.
“In my opinion it’s not an unreasonable request to ask her to reconsider,” said Freeman.