New Bellefonte grocery store secures parking spot

A new grocery store will be opening in downtown Bellefonte on Wednesday, and it will have a designated parking spot, at least for a while.

Beth Whitman, president of Belle Market, 206 W. High St., brought a “perceived parking issue” to Bellefonte Borough Council on Monday.

“We have heard some customers concerned about parking and getting groceries to the car,” said Whitman, whose market is designed to fill an underserved niche in the downtown, offering groceries to residents who don’t want to or can’t drive out outside the area. When it comes to parking, the biggest concern is for seniors who might not be able to carry several bags of groceries down the street to another parking space.

Whitman asked to have permission to place a “loading only” sign by one parking space during operating hours, Wednesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The request had support from some council members, such as Joe Beigle and Barry Spicer. It also raised questions for others, such as Paul DeCusati.

“I think we run the risk of upsetting other businesses,” said DeCusati, pointing out that the restaurants and shops have not had the same opportunity.

Mayor Tom Wilson said the issue is not the business, but the customers.

“I think this is more of a convenience or a service,” he said. He also called the market “the kind of business we’ve asked for for years,” something he said was much needed for the older residents of the community.

Whitman said her staff would be carrying groceries out to the cars and be able to police the spot, preventing abuse by others looking to park downtown.

Council voted to allow the move on a trial basis for 90 days, asking Whitman to report back monthly.