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​New parking rates to be implemented Downtown

The City will test a pilot program of parking meters around the Downtown Mall

<p>The City will be testing a different system of parking around the Downtown Mall between September 5, 2017, and March 5, 2018.</p>

The City will be testing a different system of parking around the Downtown Mall between September 5, 2017, and March 5, 2018.

The City will be implementing a program to put parking meters at all on-street parking spaces around the Downtown Mall. The parking meters are part of a pilot program City Council approved during a meeting in July.

According to the press release, the pilot program has three goals — “Improve the availability and predictability of finding parking,” “Improve business activity on the Downtown Mall” and “Create a parking revenue source, separate from the General Fund of the City, which will be used to increase and maintain parking facilities.”

“Effective Tuesday, September 5, 2017 a Pilot Program to operate parking meters on-street in a twelve block area bounded on the north by Market Street between East 7th Street and Old Preston and on the south by Water Street between East 5th Street and West 2nd Street,” a press release from the City said.

The 105 parking spots will cost $1.80 per hour between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Parking will remain free on Sundays. Parking will also be free at all disabled spots.

The parking rate in the Market Street Garage will also change as part of the new program. The current cost is $2.50 per hour, which will be reduced to $1.50 per hour, with the first hour free.

The program includes a monthly parking program for the Market Street Garage in the form of an all-day parking voucher.

“A voucher will allow anyone to park as long as they want after 6:00 AM until 6:00 AM the following day for a flat rate of $6.50,” the press release said. “When a voucher is presented at the garage cashier booth the maximum cost of all-day parking will be $6.50. It is hoped Downtown Mall employers will distribute the vouchers to their employees and share the cost at some percentage.”

There will also be free all-day parking at the Park & Ride lot on Avon Street. There are 100 available spots there, and the lot is serviced by the #2 bus route every 30 minutes during the day.

The 7th Street parking lot will have free spaces available after Friday on weekday, in addition to all of Saturday and Sunday.

The pilot program will run through March 5, at which point the effectiveness of the new program will be evaluated. The city will survey patrons to the Downtown Mall, as well as businesses, to gauge the program. The city will also look at the use of the Market Street Garage, 7th Street Lot and Avon Street Park & Ride.