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Seven of 10 applicants for the Downtown Business District Parking Advisory Committee were selected Tuesday, becoming the inaugural members of the panel that will recommend parking policies to the Hot Springs Board of Directors.

Courtney Crouch Jr., Elizabeth Farris, Jeffrey Runyon, Mark Fleischner and Stephanie Spargo were selected for the five city resident positions, and Toddy Pitard and Stacy Roberts will fill the two nonvoting, ex officio positions reserved for downtown business owners residing outside the city.

They will be officially appointed at the board's business meeting Tuesday and serve five-year terms. The resolution authorizing the appointments is on the consent agenda.

The panel was created in September to recommend parking improvements for the area comprising Central Avenue from Olive Street to the intersection of Park and Whittington avenues, Convention Boulevard, Broadway Street, upper Malvern Avenue, Ouachita Avenue, Fountain, Hazel and Woodbine streets. The city has said more than 1,000 parking spaces, 15 private lots and about seven public lots are within the committee's purview.

The formation of a parking authority empowered to impose fees, acquire parking facilities and issue debt for parking improvements is one of the recommendations expected to emerge from the committee. A self-contained authority, with revenue, operating costs and debt service separate from the city, was recommended by the Downtown Hot Springs Parking, Pedestrian and Bicycle Enhancement Plan the board adopted in July 2016.

Robert Raines, owner of the Gangster Museum of America, and retired attorney Byron Rhodes, who's part of the Brick House Grill's ownership group, also applied for resident positions. Raines' application listed a city director District 1 address off upper Park Avenue, and Rhodes listed a District 6 address in east Hot Springs.

"We only have five slots," Mayor Pat McCabe, referring to the resident positions, told applicants Tuesday. "By simple math, two of you will not be on the committee. We love you nonetheless. I just wish we could have this much interest in all of our committees, because we have openings in many of them."

The board added two ex officio positions last month to ensure representation of downtown business owners residing outside the city. Nonresident appointee Pitard listed his address as a condominium south of the city limits on Lake Hamilton. He told the board Tuesday that he moved to Hot Springs from El Dorado after acquiring an ownership stake in Lauray's -- The Diamond Center in November. He owns a jewelry store in downtown El Dorado, where he said he worked to address parking issues similar to those affecting downtown Hot Springs.

Roberts' family's tourist attraction portfolio includes the Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum and National Park Duck Tours. He listed an address west of the city on Lake Hamilton. Thomas Dexter, owner of the Mountain's Edge, a downtown knife shop, also applied for a nonresident position.

Crouch and Fleischner have business interests within the parking authority's coverage area. Crouch lives in District 3 and is president of Selected Funeral and Life Insurance Co., located adjacent to City Hall on Convention Boulevard. Fleischner's family owns Lauray's. He lives in District 6.

District 6 resident Farris is a retired bank executive and former president of Regions Bank Hot Springs. Spargo is a licensed real estate broker who lives in District 4. Runyon lives in District 6 and is an executive at Merritt Wholesale Distributors.

Local on 03/14/2019

Print Headline: City board appoints parking committee members

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