Waynesville looks to approve Hazelwood parking improvements

By Allison Richmond | Oct 17, 2016
Photo by: File photo The only public parking lot in Hazelwood could soon be expanded from 59 to 93 parking spaces.

With just a few details to work out, it looks like the Town of Waynesville’s plan to expand and improve the tiny parking lot that serves as the main public parking area in Hazelwood is back on track after a long delay.

The new lease and upgrade plan was being negotiated last fall but fell by the wayside after the November elections and the board's focus shifted to changing out town managers.

When new Town Manager Rob Hites took over in August, one of his first items of business was to resume the negotiations and present a new lease to the board.

The upgrade plans call for nearly doubling the parking capacity of the lot, expanding from 59 to 93 parking spaces by demolishing two buildings near the back of the lot. The former barbershop behind Hazelwood Soap Company and the home that served as an insurance office would be removed by town public works employees.

The improvements also include repaving and restriping the lot, adding ‘pedestrian scale’ lighting and installing public art sculptures.

The estimated cost of the improvements will be about $100,000.

The proposed lease of the privately owned lot is for an initial five-year term with four automatic renewals of five years each.

The initial lease for the expanded and improved lot would cost the town $850 per month with increases of nine percent at each renewal.

If approved, construction would begin with the demolition of the two buildings as early as November, with lease payments during construction reduced to $425 per month.

Because negotiating the new lease on the property was much delayed during the leadership transition, Hites negotiated to compensate the Viola Forga Living Trust the sum of $5,400 for one year of lost rent on the insurance building.

The deal should have been done a year ago, so the building was left empty in anticipation of demolition, but with the delay, the Forgas lost a year of potential rent.

“I negotiated a sum that was at the midpoint between where both parties started,” said Hites.

When the improvement plan and new lease information were presented last week, it was met with encouragement by the board, with only a few reservations from Aldermen Jon Feichter and Julia Freeman.

For Feichter, it was the first time he had seen the information, since he had not yet been elected when it was last presented.

“I wanted just a little time to look it over and a little more information before I was completely ready to approve it, but I am happy to say I am thrilled with the much needed improvements and the negotiations,” he said. “The thing that was foremost in my mind was to be a good steward of the town’s resources. Having had a chance to look it over in more depth, I am very much in favor of it. I think this is something that is great for the businesses of Hazelwood.”

Freeman also wanted more information before making up her mind.

Hites said Freeman wanted to compare the cost of demolition to be sure the price was right before agreeing to the contract.

Freeman said that like Feichter she is excited about the prospect of improving the parking situation in Hazelwood.

“We just need to be sure we’re getting the best deal for everyone,” she said.

“After reviewing the terms, it looks good to me. I expect to come back at the next meeting, ready to approve it,” she said.