Middletown recently added 14 new signs around downtown to alert motorists to the presence of four municipal parking lots.
Tracy Skrobot says she's heard the complaint over and over again.
"We've added several new businesses to Main Street in the last year or so, but people always tell me they don't come downtown because they claim there isn't any parking," said Skrobot, the manager of the Middletown Main Street Program. "But the fact is, we have these municipal lots that are never full, so I think it's really a perceived problem more than an actual one."
To help overcome that perception, town government recently added 14 new signs to the streets of downtown Middletown that Skrobot hopes will make more people aware of the town's four municipal lots between West Main and Green Streets.
Ten of the signs are posted throughout downtown to direct traffic to the available spaces, while one sign is posted immediately outside each of the four lots, which offer roughly 200 parking spaces in addition to the free, on-street parking available on most town streets.
Those lots include the 33-space parking lot (no handicap spaces) next to the Appoquinimink Boys & Girls Club at the corner of South Broad and Green streets; the adjacent 83-space lot (six handicap spaces) that surrounds town hall, which also includes another 10 town employee spaces that become available to the public on the weekends; the 17-space lot (two handicap spaces) immediately east of Forest Presbyterian Church; and the frequently underused 53-space lot (two handicap spaces) on North Scott Street, directly across from the Volunteer Hose Company's fire hall.
Skrobot said she's hopeful the thousands of people who were in town for the Olde Tyme Peach Festival last weekend noticed the signs, even though three of the four municipal lots were closed to traffic for the event.
She's also emailing notices to downtown merchants informing them of the signs and the existence of the parking lots in the hopes they pass along the information to their employees and customers.
"It's one thing to put up signs, but sometimes you also have to help make sure that people notice them, as well," she said, adding that she's also trying to alleviate the second most frequently heard complaint about downtown parking.
"People will tell me that they know about the municipal lots, but that it's a pain to walk from them to where they want to go shopping," she said. "I try to tell them that it's no further than you would walk if you went to a busy shopping center or the mall. Again, I think it's a perception thing."