Downtown Cookeville businesses continue to deal with parking overflow from the Putnam County Justice Center despite efforts to address the problem.
Uptown Boutique Owner Tonya Anderson said she used to tell people going to the Justice Center that they are not allowed to park in Liberty Square, but stopped after several negative interactions.
“We get some really bad looks, and so I don’t say anything to nobody anymore,” Anderson said. “I let them go because they are going to, they’re going to the Justice Center. So it’s a little bit scary. Makes me feel a little bit uneasy that they’re, you know, leaving there and coming over here to get in their vehicles.”
New parking lots were built on Spring Street. A bus route going from one to the Justice Center was added. City Square Barber Shop Owner Zach Qualls said he did not notice a difference. Qualls said it can be difficult to tell where people in the parking lot are going, making the issue even harder to address.
“There’s spaces upstairs to the parking lot,” Qualls said. “They could be walking upstairs to go to one of those spaces. You don’t know, and you don’t want to judge somebody based on sheerly of what they look like.”
Anderson said customers have to drive around the square three or four times to find a parking spot. Qualls said the problem has been affecting him since he opened the shop in February of 2019.
“I didn’t even know they put a bus route in,” Qualls said.
Qualls said the issue is not too overwhelming for his business, which faces away from the justice center.
“I think it could be cleaned up, but I also don’t think it’s the worst parking lot situation,” Qualls said.