On Thursday, the Authority approved the purchase of six more cones and two signs in two 4-0 votes. The cones will be put in city right-of-way and the signs will be placed on utility poles.
Bret Tillman operates the parking lot, which spans the rear of several businesses that front Atlanta Street. Tillman has told the City Council that his father, Bob Tillman, and several business partners own the lot and a nearby building that houses offices and an art studio. Tillman argues that there is a nearby parking lot where anyone can pay $5 to park but that drivers would rather park in his lot for free. So he charges $50 to remove the boot, and if the car remains in the parking lot longer than a few hours, he has it towed.
The booting fees were initially $150, but the City Council capped them at $50 in December.
In December, Authority chairman Tom Browning, a downtown business owner, reached an agreement with parking lot owners Bob Tillman and Chuck Clark, husband of Cobb Superior Court Judge Mary Staley, to put cones near the lot’s entrance after patrons of Johnny MacCracken’s Pub had complained about booting fees.
However, during an authority meeting Thursday at City Hall, Browning said the cones went missing.
“We bought six booting towers. We gave them to the city. We’d put up two at a time and one of them would go and we’d put another one out,” he said. “Now the last of the six towers has gone into the Twilight Zone. Since they’ve disappeared, the booting has started up a lot more.”
Bret Tillman employs an in-house staff of booters who aggressively ply their craft, Browning said.
“I’ve now seen them do two cars at a time, as opposed to one or two here and there,” Browning said.
Browning said Mayor Steve Tumlin, an authority ex-officio member, was looking “at doing something,” which Browning said may have included permanently fastening the cones to the sidewalk.
“My theory is it’s a small sidewalk there and (the city was) worried there wouldn’t be enough room to go around,” Browning said. “If they were fastened down, it sure would be a whole lot better.”
Authority member Johnny Fulmer, owner of the Marietta Square Farmers Market, moved to buy six more cones, and Fulmer, Browning, downtown property owner Paula Goldstein Shea and Shillings on the Square owner Dave Reardon voted in favor.
City Councilman Philip Goldstein, Shea’s brother, reminded the Authority it had also once considered buying a sign to be put on a utility pole.
The authority also approved that purchase unanimously.
“We will pay for two signs that the city will be in charge of putting in,” Browning said. “We’ll do the cones and the signs up on the poles.”
In other business, Marietta Theatre events coordinator Gene Bradley asked the Authority for a $28,000 donation.
“There is minimal cost, production and staff. There’s only a few of us,” she said.
Browning said the matter will be referred to the authority’s budget committee, which comprises Browning, Fulmer and downtown property owner James Eubanks.
The theatrical production company was formed recently by author and director Ed Howard and Bradley, the former house manager at Theatre in the Square, which recently vacated 11 Whitlock Ave.
The new company is reopening the auditorium’s doors Nov. 1 with the one-person comedy “The Summer of Daisy Fay” and will perform Howard’s “A Tuna Christmas” in December.
“I hope this thing works,” Browning said. “I know a lot of people miss the theatre up there.”
“I think it’s very timely. Ed’s gone out on a limb; he’s been working real hard to get it going. ‘Tuna’ has gotten great reviews. The Lyric goes a long time between shows sometimes,” he said about the Atlanta Lyric Theatre, a musical comedy and light opera production company housed at the Strand Theatre in the Square.