The Ralston City Council voted at its Oct. 15 meeting to enter negations with Urban Waters to redevelop a city owned parking lot on Park Drive.
The lot would be repurposed into multifamily housing.
Parking has been the center of several community complaints on Facebook with several citizens saying there is already a lack of parking in downtown Ralston.
The Ralston Area Chamber of Commerce held a meeting Thursday, which was closed to the public and press, to listen to business owners’ concerns.
Amy Roeder, president of the Ralston Area Chamber of Commerce, said the meeting was a way to get everyone together and to provide information.
“We weren’t trying to change any minds or pitch them something,” Roeder said.
She said there will be some give and take in the redevelopment process.
“No matter what we do, we keep our current businesses in mind,” Roeder said.
Alex Fernandez, one of the owners of Hearthside Candles and Curios, said he does not think there is a consistent parking problem in Ralston.
“There are certain days and times, when we have events that close down the roads, where we lose precious parking,” Fernandez said. “That parking lot comes in very handy for our customers and visitors.”
Another issue he said downtown business owners have encountered is in the winter residents who live near downtown sometimes park in front of businesses taking up customer parking.
“In the winter the city can’t clear the roads and the parking stalls and the cars parked there,” Fernandez said.
“There have been times we’ve lost a couple parking stalls of the already limited parking because of the weather.”
He said businesses have had to call someone to clear the parking stalls because the city did not enforce making the cars move.
Fernandez questions where people will park once the lot is gone.
“I’m not definitely for or against the project at this point, I just feel like we need more information before the businesses can throw their support behind it,” Fernandez said.
David Cotton, owner of Small Engine Service Inc., said he is not in favor of the redevelopment.
“To close that parking lot would make matters worse,” Cotton said.
For Cotton, there are too many concerns that the city needs to address for him to be in favor of the parking lot project.
“Expanding that parking lot helped parking in downtown Ralston and the city thought they needed more parking then, too,” Cotton said.
Cotton said if the lot were removed there wouldn’t be enough parking in the area.
“They are going the other way and instead they are going to totally eliminate it which will leave less available public parking than there has been in my 40 years,” Cotton said.
Shaun Dolphens, owner of Dolphens Signs, said he is for the development of the city, but is not sure if apartments are the best fit.
“If this is what needs to happen to get more businesses down here and start the revitalization then I guess I am all for that,” Dolphens said. “I just hope they can rent it out for what they want.”