The debate over its use sent voters to the polls and incumbents out of office.
Oct. 7 election
saw close to a 10 percent rise in the usual voter turnout. Those who came out voted out half of the city council.
Many agree it was the old council's plan for a parking lot that got voters angry.
"They saw even the loss of 40 to 50 parking spaces as a critical matter," said Mayor-elect Steve Joyner, whocampaigned on finding an alternative place for a new police station.
The outgoing council's plan to build the police station on a downtown parking lot angered church members, court visitors and downtown merchants who covet convenient parking.
"I think all of us felt that we were kind of kept in the dark to begin with," business owner Christy Fox said.
Fox said she would have moved her store; other merchants might have shut down altogether. Polite pleas and protests followed to no avail.
"I just feel like they had made their decision and there was no going back," Fox said.
The outgoing council will deal with the matter at their November meeting, but that will change in December.
"I would say it's going to be one of the first things on our agenda at our December meeting. Right after we're sworn in," Joyner said.
It all adds up to an important lesson in small-town politics.
"The people spoke and we got what we wanted," Fox said.
The mayor-elect has not recommended a new place for the police station. Joyner said there are old buildings downtown that could be renovated or possibly torn down to make way for the new facility.
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