After citations, Advantage Towing loses contract with SunTrust

In this April 21, 2012 file photo, a service technician stops traffic to allow book shoppers to cross Main Street during the Friends of the Library Book Sale. SunTrust says people will be allowed to park its lot again this year.

Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, April 19, 2013 at 2:21 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 19, 2013 at 2:21 p.m.

SunTrust Bank in downtown Gainesville has canceled its contract with Advantage Towing after the company received 10 citations for illegal towing there during the recent Santa Fe College Spring Arts Festival.

A controversy developed amid fears that cars using the SunTrust parking lot might be towed at this weekend’s Friends of the Library Book Sale.

The letter of termination dated Thursday that SunTrust sent to Advantage does not give a reason for the termination.

SunTrust requested that Advantage immediately stop performing services at the bank at 411 N. Main St.

Gainesville Police Department spokesman Officer Ben Tobias said weekend shoppers at the popular book sale, which is across Main Street from SunTrust, will be allowed to park in the bank’s parking lot.

“We have been in contact with the bank manager, and he said there will not be any kind of problem this weekend with Friends of the Library,” Tobias said.

Brad White, city president of SunTrust Bank for North Central Florida, said the contract was initiated by a SunTrust employee who was not authorized to enter into a contract.

White added it was never the bank’s intention to keep people from using its parking lot on the weekends of community events such as the arts festival and book sale.

“There is no reason to be concerned. They won’t be towed,” White said. “There is not a contract in place. The contract that was in place was not intended to be in place. In fairness, vagrancy and loitering happen over the weekends. A lot of cleanup is involved on Mondays.”

Advantage and SunTrust signed an agreement April 5 to be effective April 19.

Complaints arose when vehicles were towed during the arts festival the weekend of April 6-7. The city of Gainesville, which regulates trespass towing, issued 10 citations to Advantage for the towing.

Advantage has issued letters of apology and pledged to reimburse the owners of the vehicles towed. Advantage faces the possibility of a suspension from trespass towing activities due to the violations.

Attempts to reach Advantage for comment Friday were unsuccessful.

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