Increasing the cost to park downtown isn’t the right decision.
Instead, the town should be removing parking meters.
Council is expected to vote Tuesday night on increasing the cost from 50 cents an hour to 75 cents. While a quarter isn’t a lot of money in the grand scheme of things, the town owes lenders over $16 million and is in the midst of finding ways to both cover that debt and trim the budget to stop incurring more.
Area residents are signing petitions against the move and the Downtown Business Association opposes the increase as harmful to members’ bottom lines.
In Huntsville, downtown parking meters were removed May 1, with its downtown business umbrella group arguing patrons having to pay to park put its members at a disadvantage and created animosity.
There is an argument that meters are necessary to help keep up with infrastructure and ensure vehicles aren’t left in valuable parking spots for extended periods. But, that doesn’t compare to the increase in business that the downtown could receive if people don’t have to scrounge for change in this day of paying for everyday purchases electronically, the need to replace and maintain metres, and the hassle of clearing snowbanks from around them.
Getting rid of the meters will cost the town much needed money, but it is also likely to make the downtown more attractive for shoppers and business, which in turn makes the downtown attractive to new businesses and residents and helps the town’s bottom line with fees it collects for such things as permits for temporary businesses and building applications.
When council debates the proposed increase to park downtown, we’d also like to hear discussion on the removal of the meters. Only then can a sound decision be made.