Siler City officials working to ensure remedy for ‘war zone’ parking lot

Posted 6/14/19

SILER CITY — “It’s time to do something,” said Jose Rodriguez.

He’s frustrated.

As manager for the last six years of Compare Foods at Siler City’s Park Shopping Center, off Raleigh …

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Siler City officials working to ensure remedy for ‘war zone’ parking lot

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Posted

SILER CITY — “It’s time to do something,” said Jose Rodriguez.

He’s frustrated.

As manager for the last six years of Compare Foods at Siler City’s Park Shopping Center, off Raleigh Street, he’s seen the parking lot that serves his store deteriorate from bad to worse.

Heavy rainfall from Hurricane Matthew in 2016 left the parking lot badly damaged. It remains in bad condition today.

Dappled with deep potholes and chunks of broken asphalt, the parking area — Siler City planning director Jack Meadows has likened its appearance and condition to a “war zone” — is an obstacle course for motorists.

Rodriguez said one of his customers was injured when he accidentally stepped in one of the large holes.

Dangerous for motorists and pedestrians, the parking lot’s bad condition has ultimately been hard on the grocery store’s bottom line.

“We’ve lost a lot of business,’ Rodriguez said.

With a new bakery and restaurant recently opened inside the grocery, the condition of the outside property is especially frustrating, Rodriguez said.

“It doesn’t matter how clean I keep the inside of my store if the presentation outside is so bad,” he said.

He’s frustrated, too, because he said he has communicated with the landlord numerous times over many months and, despite promises that the problem will be addressed, little has been done.

Other tenants share Rodriguez’s concerns.

“It’s killing our sales,” said Patricia Taylor of Variety Wholesalers, the parent company of Maxway, which leases its space at the shopping center and shares the parking lot with Compare Foods and four other businesses.

Maxway representatives have contacted the landlord, SMA Enterprises LLC, in Alexandria, Virginia, numerous times and, like Rodriguez, they’ve been told the ongoing problem would be addressed, but so far without much result.

“There’s been one delay after another,” Taylor said, “and the parking lot is in worse shape now than it ever was, and it’s affecting our customers.”

Earlier this year, some work was initiated to address the matter. At the owner’s expense, some of the damaged asphalt was removed and an old drainage culvert was replaced with new pipe. That work was aimed at addressing the decade’s-old problem of flooding on the property, which is at the epicenter of the Love’s Creek Watershed.

That work was completed, but the second part of the fix — repairing the parking lot — remains undone.

Siler City officials aren’t any happier with the situation than the business owners are.

Recently, Mayor John Grimes visited the businesses at Park Shopping Center, speaking with owners and discussing their concerns.

“We’re very aware of the problem,” Grimes said, “and we’re definitely working on it. It’s not good for the town, for other industries looking to come here, and we’re going to see that something is done.”

Meadows said the situation has become a code enforcement issue.

“We expect parking lots, per our ordinances, to be in good condition,” Meadows said. “We know there’s a bad situation there.”

Noting the large potholes and dangerous driving conditions, Meadows said the Park Shopping Center parking lot is facing a violation of town rules and, after receipt of a formal notice of violation, which he said the town will issue this week, the landlord will have 10 days to complete work to correct the problem or face fines of $100 per day.

Rodriguez, though frustrated, said he is hopeful something will be done soon. He said he’s planning an outdoor event, a party with live music, to celebrate once the parking lot is repaired.

Randall Rigsbee can be reached at rigsbee@chathamnr.com.

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