Former Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris

The city of Charlottesville wants the owner of the Charlottesville Parking Center to prove that a former elected official recently appointed as general manager has the qualifications to perform the job.

The Charlottesville Parking Center announced late last month that former Mayor Dave Norris has been hired to replace Bob Stroh in the position.

“The contract for Parking Management Services between the City of Charlottesville and CPC designates the General Manager of CPC as ‘key personnel’ and states that any person proposed as general manager must have certain qualifications,” wrote Chris Engel, the city’s economic development director, in a letter to CPC owner Mark Brown that was obtained by Charlottesville Tomorrow.

Engel said the position should be held by someone who has at least six months of parking management ex-perience and at least three years of experience in the service industry.

Norris was elected to Charlottesville’s City Council in 2006 and served as mayor for two terms. Since 2013, Norris has served as director of community impact for the United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg.

In an interview with The Daily Progress, Norris said that the job opportunity was a good “stretch” for him.

“A lot of the same basic skills apply to both,” he told The Daily Progress. “I’ve been in an executive director role in several nonprofit organizations and a lot of that’s managing the finances of the organization, doing the hiring and the evaluation of personnel, program development; a lot of those same skills apply to this new opportunity.”

City Manager Maurice Jones circulated the letter to City Council on Monday and asked for their feedback.

The Charlottesville Parking Center signed a contract with the city in April 2014 to operate the Market Street Parking Garage, a surface lot on Seventh Street and a parking structure on High Street that serves the court system.

At least one councilor said he was puzzled by the letter.

“I can’t think of a better person to do that job and it seemed odd,” said Councilor Bob Fenwick. “I think he would be a great candidate. Everyone knows him. He survived the political wars in Charlottesville for eight years.”

Councilor Kristin Szakos said she did not share the letter with anyone else and had no comment. Other councilors declined to comment for this story, as did Jones.

The Charlottesville Parking Center filed a lawsuit against the City of Charlottesville on March 14 over rates at the Water Street Parking Garage, which is jointly owned and managed by the city and CPC.

The city has hired attorney Thomas L. Wolf, of LeClair Ryan, to represent them in the case. Wolf has filed a motion with Charlottesville Circuit Court asking for a “bill of particulars” that asks for specifics for how the CPC has been harmed by city actions.

“Without knowing the specific documents and language of the condominium instruments upon which CPC bases it claim that CPC and the City are partners or joint venturers … the City is not afforded a fair opportunity to respond and/or prepare its defense,” Wolf wrote in a motion sent to the court on April 1.

Wolf filed a separate motion asking for a demurrer and suggested the suit will be dismissed once the relevant documents are made available.

The city of Charlottesville was set to consider a pilot project to place parking meters around the Downtown Mall. At press time, more than 200 people have signed an online petition against the move.

Norris was reached for comment on Tuesday via email and said he did not want to “get down in the mud” with city officials. 

“I look forward to starting my new job in June and working with all the key stakeholders downtown to make Downtown Charlottesville a great place to live, work, play, and run a business,” Norris said. “CPC has first-rate parking management staff in place, with dozens of years of parking operations experience between them. I applaud Bob Stroh for assembling such a fine team and look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.”
This story was updated Tues. April 5, 2016 at 4:57 p.m. to reflect comments from Dave Norris