Paw Paw parking changes cause some controversy

PAW PAW, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - There is controversy brewing in a West Michigan community after big changes pop up.

In downtown Paw Paw, drivers on Michigan Avenue now have to back their vehicles into slanted parking spots.

This has been causing lots of frustration and confusion for drivers wondering why it's needed. On Monday, Newschannel 3 went out to get answers to the big parking mystery.

Drivers have been saying all day how much this upsets them. But officials say it's actually safer to back into these spots.

"We hope it works, but it's kind of scary." said Paw Paw resident Terry Davis.

This weekend, crews faced hecklers and insults as they marked the back-in spots on Michigan Avenue.

This takes Paw Paw's main drag from four lanes down to two--adding a bike lane and shortening the distance shoppers walk to cross the street.

"You have all these trucks coming through here. It's hard enough for them to turn at the main intersection. But now i think it's going to be tougher," Davis said.

Some even believe that making these new parking moves will cause more accidents. But Village Manager Larry Neilsen says studies show using spots like these is the safest way to park.

"What you do get by that is you have the driver with the visibility when they want to leave, and the passengers safe when they leave to the side of the vehicle, and loading to the rear of the vehicle," he said.

The village says this is part of their master plan to revitalize downtown.

Business owners say there are a lot of unknowns, but they're already seeing benefits.

"You definitely double up on the amount of parking spaces that you have out front here," said Patrick Desmond, of Pipe Dreams Tobacco and Grow. "Previously, we had just parallel parking and there were about four or five spots, now we have eight or ten."

Some drivers agree that it's really not that difficult of a parking job.

"I think once everyone gets familiar with the roads, everything will pan out," said resident Rodney Alfieri.

The Village Manager says they're just trying out these new spaces, and will evaluate the new plan a year from now.