Higher Meter Rates On Horizon

Parking discussion

Dan Stockmen | The Journal Gazette

FORT WAYNE – While the final decision on Brown took just a few minutes Tuesday, the board spent much more time discussing a proposal to double the rates charged by parking meters.

The district was hoping for a more comprehensive update of the downtown parking situation, including on warning tickets for first-time offenders and free parking the first Friday of the month, but board member Greg Leatherman warned that failing to support any improvement while waiting for something better could mean no improvement at all.

The Board of Public Safety proposed in December that meter rates be doubled to 50 cents per hour; that proposal was introduced to the City Council on Tuesday evening.

Most district board members praised the move, saying meter rates need to be raised to levels where they make parking garages and private lots competitive – so that employees who work downtown will park there instead of on the street. But they urged that the city’s parking enforcement also begin chalking tires to ensure that people don’t just keep feeding the meter and leave their car parked beyond the stated time limit.

Employees parking all day take up spots that should be for people going downtown to shop or eat, they said.

“You wouldn’t believe how many people park on the street for eight hours,” Leatherman said. “We’ve got to put a stop to it or we’ll never have the turnover to retail that we want. I realize getting a ticket is painful, but at least then you have a chance of getting a spot.”

Lona Antil said tickets are more than just painful.

“For a small business, (a customer) getting a ticket is just like a kick, saying ‘Don’t come back,’ ” she said.

Charles Heiny, board chairman, said those parking all day at a meter can’t be blamed for taking advantage of a system that discourages them from parking elsewhere. Tickets for parking meters used to be $5 – less than parking all day in a garage or lot – but the City Council doubled the fines last month.

After hearing the city was still considering other ideas, such as warning tickets, the board voted unanimously to support the increase.

Original Article (The Journal Gazette)

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