Business owner: Oregon District paid lot "not a money-maker"

The decision to transform four Oregon District parking lots into paid lots has nothing to do with making a buck, district business owner Jim Schaefer told in an exclusive interview.

"I want to make it clear that this is not a money-maker," Schaefer said. "This is more for security and cleanliness and supplying the customers somewhere to park."

Schaefer, the owner of Ned Peppers Bar and Buckeye Construction and Development at 419 E Fifth St., leases the parking lot at the rear of those businesses near the intersection of Gates and Jackson Streets under his business M and J Inc.

He said he pays more than $12,000 annually for the 90-spot lot's insurance, upkeep and other expenses.

That lot, and another one at 351 E. Fifth Street owned by MATA Properties according to Montgomery County records, will become a paid lot within a matter of days, Schaefer said.

Patrons will enter license plate numbers into a machine, and use a credit card or cash to pay $3 for up to 8 hours of parking in the lots managed by ABM Parking Services. Schaefer said funds will help cover the cost of security and maintenance.

"There will always be security out there," he said. "The $3 goes to ABM."   

The Fifth Street lot is currently used primarily by the Environmental Protection Agency employees and for Salar Restaurant and Lounge's complimentary valet parking. Valet service parking will move to another lot. 

Upgrades will be made to the parking lot at Jackson Street and Wayne Avenue, and the lot at Gate Street and Jackson. They will be transformed into paid lots in the coming months as well.

Schaefer said that patrons and employees of other Oregon District businesses have long used his company's lot, making it difficult for Ned Peppers and Buckeye Construction customers to find parking.

"None of the other businesses wanted to help pay for upkeep ( of the lot)," he said. "It is bothering the businesses more than it is the public, because they (the businesses) got away with free parking."

Lily's Bistro, 329 E 5th St., plans to offer to cover the cost of parking for its customers, co-owner Lisa Mendenhall said in a Facebook post.  

Responding to an onslaught of criticism, Schaefer said that it is virtually unheard of to have free parking in urban communities like Dayton.

And he said the cost of parking is no doubt built into the price of items at places like Austin Landing and The Greene.

"It is reflected in their food cost, alcohol cost and everything else," he said. "You don't pay $7 for a beer in the Oregon District."

Amelia O'Dowd, president of the Oregon District Business Association, said other Oregon District parking lot owners are considering becoming paid lots as well.

She has said Schaefer's decision has caused discussion of parking in the district in general and how it can serve all involved.

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