By Tia Lynn Ivey managing editor
The Madison City Council unanimously approved a request for a parking lease because of a unique situation concerning a city-owned street and a privately own awning constructed over it. Councilman Joe DiLetto initially feared allowing the owner, Liselott Johnsson, to lease out the parking spaces behind her building on the corner of East Washington Street and Hancock Street (the old historic funeral home), could set an undesirable precedent, in which other local downtown business owners would think they, too, are entitled to lease spaces outside of their businesses. However, after City Attorney Joe Reitman and Johnsson’s legal represenative, Charles Merritt, conferred and reworded the lease agreement, Diletto was persuaded.
“I was the only one who had concerns about this,” said DiLetto. “But I think this covers things to where we do not have to be too concerned about setting a precedent throughout the rest of the city.” “I believe that we are well covered and I am comfortable with the terms of the lease,” said Reitman. The city agreed to this month-to-month lease, which will allow the owner to control unwanted parking with signage and the right to tow unauthorized vehicles, because of the unique circumstances this one property poses.
According to Johnsson, the unofficial parking space behind her building is being abused by the public, which often leads to unauthorized cars blocking entrances and walkways, oversized cars and trucks sticking out into the road, and interferes with unloading and maintenance on her property. According to Johnsson, a lease is the perfect solution, which would absolve the city of any liability under her awnin and would give her control of the space until she sells the building.