Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Free Holiday Parking May Move to City Garage

Katie Boyer

This holiday season you may have to drive into the city garage to find the traditional free parking Uptown. The Athens Uptown Business Association (AUBA) voiced concerns to City Council regarding the parking situation in the Uptown area during the holiday season. City Council usually bags the meters on Court Street so holiday shoppers can park for free. However, this year, in response to AUBA concerns Council has proposed keeping parking on Court Street as paid meters, but making the two-hour parking spaces in the city parking garage free.

AUBA President Josh Thomas explains why the change is a good idea.

AUBA President Josh Thomas says this change will be beneficial to both customers and businesses in the Uptown area. He says that the problem with the free parking on Court Street is too often the spots are taken by employees, leaving few places for customers to park. Thomas also said free parking in the garage will bring more attention to it, saying the parking garage is not utilized enough.

Official Word
City Councilwoman Chris Knisely introduced the proposal that would change free parking from Court Street to the two-hour parking meters on the first level of the garage. Knisely said the concern was brought to their attention by AUBA, but other business owners and Uptown shoppers are not as comfortable with the proposed changes.

Community Reaction

Business owner Frank McDermott says he does not think the change is necessary.

Frank McDermott, owner of the Blue Eagle is not as supportive of the proposed parking changes. “I’m surprised to hear it. It’s too bad because it’s been a useful thing for us. I mean it’s helpful for people wanting to shop Uptown to have that added perk of not having to pay the meters.”

Uptown shopper Craig Dickelman says he does not like the idea of the change in parking.

Craig Dickelman, an uptown consumer, has similar concerns. “People are people. I think if you have the ability to park at the business you want to shop then you’re going to have better opportunity for that business owner to make money.”

Although some are concerned about the proposed change, others say it won’t be much of an issue. Both business owners and consumers said that although the change might be a bit of an inconvenience, people will still park on Court Street. McDermott also mentioned that if a person wants to park on Court Street, they will drop a few quarters in the slot to do so.

The ordinance was introduced Monday night, but during the city council meeting it seemed that not everyone was convinced. City Councilwoman Nancy Bain proposed that the ordinance be changed to be in effect for this year only. Council also didn't have information on how many spaces will be available, but Knisely did say the city would lose less money by making the change to having free parking in the garage.

Ordinance Details
Knisely said last year in December the revenue from the parking garage was approximately $2,300, whereas the Court Street revenue was $8,300. She also stressed that the free parking will only be permitted in the two-hour parking areas (the first two levels), and the garage will still be enforcing the two-hour time restrictions on parking.

The ordinance has only been through one reading, and the second reading will take place on November 2nd at 7:30 p.m. at the City Council Building. Councilwoman Knisely said she will have more details regarding the ordinance at the next meeting.

No comments: