Road construction on University Avenue and parking problems are the major concerns of downtown businesses for 1989, a business group says.

Association of Involved Merchants members met with their new board of directors recently to discuss those concerns, but with 700 businesses in the AIM area and only 11 of them represented in the meeting, apathy may end up being the biggest problem AIM will have to face this year."Everyone in downtown Provo will be affected by it (the construction)," board member Andy Anderson said. "Some of you (merchants) will lose business. Our interest is to make the project go as easy as possible."

Anderson said construction will take up two blocks at a time in all four lanes, cutting off many businesses from potential customers.

"We have block chairmen who will work with the merchants during the construction period," Walton said. Construction will stretch from the Fifth South viaduct to at least Fifth North, with each two-block area taking approximately one month to complete.

Money is already in the coffers to cover up to Eighth North, but weather may slow the program toward the end of the year.

The other "thorn" in the side of the city, merchants and their employees is the parking problem.

Raylene Ireland, board member and representative from Mayor Joe Jenkins' office, said the mayor and City Council are anxious to work with the merchants to find a reasonable program that will set an unwavering standard on parking policy.

Ireland and Linda Walton, AIM executive director, recently inspected potential parking areas behind several shops in the downtown area and reported there are many areas, if cleared of debris, dumpsters and other items, that could be used for customer parking.

"The development of behind-building parking should be a joint investment between the city and the merchants," Ireland said. "These areas are not very well-used."

Ireland said these parking spaces would be needed during the University Avenue construction period, because, "most of them are accessible from side roads not affected by the construction."

The other problem with parking is what to do with the growing number of employees in Provo and the shrinking number of parking spaces for customers.

During the past few years several parking ideas have been implemented, including the enforcement of one-, two- and four-hour parking areas. Employees who work in downtown Provo cannot park on the streets during work hours or they are ticketed.

Designated areas have been provided for employees, although Ireland admitted that there isn't enough parking facilities to accommodate employees without their parking in residential areas.

Provo Police Sgt. Brad Leatham said parking enforcement has been consistent but often difficult in the downtown area.

The Police Department has recorded the license numbers of employees, but many times spouses or others may use employee cars to shop and the car is ticketed.

Business operators attending the meeting ironically agreed that although the majority of their customers are the very employees who have been told not to park on downtown Provo streets, they want even tighter parking regulations and enforcement.

Presently many employees ticketed either don't pay, or don't care and end up paying in some cases more than $100 a month in tickets.

One suggestion was to implement a change in state legislation that would make it impossible register a car with outstanding parking tickets.

Other items discussed included promotional activities for the coming year. Merchants in the AIM area were encouraged participate in the decision-making process and to attend the monthly meetings, held the first Wednesday of each month at 8 a.m. in the first-floor conference room of the Utah County Building, 100 E. Center.