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City nearing parking deal with historic Black downtown church

Josh James

A preliminary agreement has been reach in a long-running dispute between the city and a historic Black church downtown over parking.

It’s a first step, but one that city officials are calling a positive move as the two parties look for a solution. For years, Main Street Baptist Church has faced lingering questions about parking – which it says is critical to its survival.

According to the Herald-Leader, the church lost the parking behind its building when the city began construction on the planned 10-acre Town Branch Park. The city constructed temporary parking on the former entrance to the Jefferson Street bridge, but the church has been pressing for a permanent fix.

Last Thursday, the Urban County Council took an initial step toward a solution that would use $1 million in American Rescue Plan funds, along with half-a-million in city dollars, to redesign areas on the former bridge entrance and other nearby properties to create more spaces.

Outgoing councilman Richard Moloney praised the move as a long time coming.

"We worked for 10 years trying to do something with that church that I've pushing for, and I kept complaining — as everybody knows I'm good at complaining — and I thank you. In 20 minutes, we were able to fix this problem," Moloney said, in comments directed toward the city's current CAO.

The Leader reports a final vote on the plan could come as early as Tuesday.