To alleviate the concerns of some downtown business owners and residents, the city is proposing seven alterations to the 1-month-old paid-parking system.
The proposed changes include:
• Removing pay stations from Gulfstream Avenue.
• Reduce summer rates from $1 to 50 cents per hour on First Street, State Street, Cocoanut Avenue and Pineapple Avenue north of First Street.
• Create two free 15-minute parking spaces on each metered block of Main Street.
• Reward employees who park in off-street permitted areas by reducing permit costs.
• Reduce the fine for an unpaid meter from $35 to $22.
• Add more instructions on pay stations.
• Add staff to help people use meters and collect parking data.
City commissioners are expected to adopt some of those measures at their July 5 meeting.
Despite suggesting those adjustments, the police department, which oversees the parking division, urges patience before demanding wholesale changes.
Chief Mikel Holloway is reminding the City Commission that there had been an understanding that six months of data was going to be collected, before any program adjustments.
At the June 20 City Commission meeting, 17 downtown business owners and residents pleaded with the board to eliminate the parking meters, saying they were harming business.
One critic displayed a photo of an empty street, he said was taken at 12:45 p.m. Friday, June 17. Holloway points out that the meters show between noon and 1 p.m., June 17, 248 people paid to park in metered spaces, and he is providing photos of downtown streets on two other Fridays, which show nearly full parking spots.
City Manager Bob Bartolotta also has urged people to wait until data on the parking usage can be collected, before demanding the meters be removed.
But some business owners, such as Wendy Getchell, of Lotus, say if something doesn’t change soon, they’ll be out of business.
Other business owners, however, believe some of the empty spaces on Main Street are attributed to employees no longer taking up prime spots directly in front of stores and attribute a slowdown in business to the normal off-season pattern.
Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].