CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A group representing businesses in Charlottesville is asking City Hall and the people running the Water Street Parking Garage to quickly find common ground.

Thursday, the Downtown Business Association of Charlottesville penned a letter asking Mayor Mike Signer and all members of Charlottesville City Council to drop threats of taking the parking garage through eminent domain.

The association is also requesting Charlottesville Parking Center (CPC) President Mark Brown to stop threatening to close the garage.

"I think the tone and the substance of the letter are most welcomed, it's a most welcome development. I think the idea of getting eminent domain off the table opens the possibility to a mutually beneficial agreement," said David Norris, CPC general manager.

The business group says parking is a lifeline for people who shop and work on the Downtown Mall.

In March, Brown filed a lawsuit against Charlottesville over the pricing of hourly and monthly rates for “pooled parking units” (unreserved parking spots) at the Water Street Parking Garage. A total of 973 spots in the garage are pooled parking units. Charlottesville controls 629 units, while CPC has 344.

The city has responded to Brown's lawsuit by filing a countersuit, seeking a trial by jury.

Brown had floated the idea of closing the Water Street garage back in May for an indefinite amount of time as negotiations dragged between the CPC and the city.

On June 7, the CPC asked a judge to appoint a third party to control operations at the parking garage while it and the city work their way through legal issues.

It was during a court hearing on June 15 that the city's attorney, Tom Wolf, revealed that Charlottesville had begun the process of using eminent domain to take over the parking garage.

The Downtown Business Association of Charlottesville released a similar letter on April 17, pleading for an agreement between Brown and Charlottesville.

Letter from the Downtown Business Association to Charlottesville City Council and Charlottesville Parking Center President Mark Brown:

The Downtown Business Association of Charlottesville wishes to congratulate the City of Charlottesville in creating a much needed Parking Department. Parking is indeed the lifeline of the Downtown Mall for merchants, residents and the general public.

The DBAC requests that both the city and Charlottesville Parking Center reach a quick agreement on the parking stalemate. The general public, our customers, need to be reassured that parking will not be a problem in the future. We urge the current two extreme threats such as eminent domain or closing the Water Street Garage be withdrawn and that a peaceful resolution be reached.

We understand the difficult nature of these suits and the distrust that accompanies such actions but ask that the city and CPC consider the significant impact the lack of resolution is having on the public image of downtown Charlottesville.

The DBAC wishes to see all parties work together towards future long term parking solutions.

Mary Beth Schellhammer
Board of Directors DBAC
On behalf of the Downtown Business Association