Fair Parking Meters face a planned block by Special Interests Downtown Jacksonville, Florida Earlier this week, an E-mail purporting to be from Realistic Transportation Alternatives, Inc. was circulated to a list of some of downtown Jacksonville's largest landowners suggesting official complicity in blocking a recent move by Councilwoman Suzanne Jenkins to extend Parking Meter time limits for downtown patrons. Signed by Mark Rimmer, the email makes reference to mysterious conversations with city officials and agencies in opposition to Jenkin's committee findings that longer meter times are called for by both merchants and downtown customers:
The email alleges:
"I (mark rimmer) have had several discussions with various "powers that be" within the City about The Downtown Action Plan Committee's proposal to extend the parking meter time downtown to 3 hours. Without exception those that I have tllked to are adamantly against it, and have said that in meetings they have had with others about the subject they were also strongly oppossed. I have been told that, if asked they would all advise the Mayor against this idea but that there is no assurance they will be asked for their opinion. The decision would be administrative and would not require any action from City Council. What I have been told is that they are counting on opposition from the private sector to keep it from happening, but that none of them could stand up and state what a bad idea it is. "
The email was delivered to several notable entities and substantial property owners including many of the parking lot management individuals downtown. The email seeks to enlist such companies as Republic Parking, Lanier Parking, LAZParking and Parkway corporation in an effort to squelch any extensions of meter time for customers.
In addition to the ubiquitous parking lot management companies downtown, the email also solicited the aid of several individuals at Downtown Vision and at companies associated with Bucky Clarkson, a longtime supporter of downtown development.
Mark Rimmer is no stranger to the cash market Downtown Parking environment. As this link (http://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/stories/2004/04/26/story8.html ) to a Jacksonville Business Journal article several years ago illustrates, Mr. Rimmer has a vested interest in Parking for Pay in the metropolitan area.
Other than proposing a vague " We need to somehow give all of those listed above (a list of committee members of the Downtown Implementation Committee) a graceful "out" or else this thing will keep moving forward. " and even vaguer hints of "dozens and dozens of reasons for why this is a bad idea and ...back-up data and case studies to validate my position " Rimmer gives no further detail as to his reasons for opposing the meter extension measure.
Also not evident in the email are detail regarding the unnamed 'powers that be' in city government to which he refers.
More details to follow.
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Richard Knox, MetroJacksonville correspondent