Downtown paid parking could mean parking deck

A parking deck could be in Fayetteville’s near future if the city converted public and private parking lots in the downtown area to paid, Sharon Crosson, the parking and telecommunications manager, told aldermen on Tuesday night at the agenda session.

Three resolutions geared toward the entertainment district’s parking will be before the city council at next week’s meeting. The resolutions do not discuss specifics, such as citation fees or rates for parking, but rather are aimed to demonstrate the council’s strong intent to move forward in acquiescing private lots and switching existing free public parking to paid lots.

Don Marr, the mayor’s chief of staff, said they are taking this approach in seeking “strong intent” so that city staff does not devote researching and designing time to the project only to have an ordinance struck down by the council.

City management of the parking lots would mean getting away from towing, Crosson said. Right now, the private lots that require payment do not have any recourse for enforcing their rates other than to tow, she said.

“I’ve had at least fifty people tell me they will never visit Fayetteville again, because they came here to go to a show or to have dinner, and they got towed,” Crosson said.

Mayor Lioneld Jordan said he had spoken with about fifteen business owners from the Dickson Street area. They resoundingly said they wanted to get rid of towing and use the money generated from paid lots for a parking deck, Jordan said.

It makes sense for the city to manage private lots and charge for spaces that are free, Alderman Brenda Thiel said.

“I realize there are some people who don’t want to pay for public parking,” she said, “but I don’t know of any large city that has free parking like we do.”

Potential locations for the parking deck have been discussed for the University Baptist Church lot and the parking lot south of Grub’s Bar and Grille, Crosson said.

In detail, the resolutions for next Tuesday’s meeting are seeking the council’s support for acquiring leases for private lots, converting the free public lots to paid, as well as supporting residential parking permits for those who live in the Dickson Street neighborhood.

Mary Robbins declared Fayetteville as her hometown upon moving here for college. She is a Journalism graduate who enjoys live music, the outdoors and attending city council meetings. For more of Mary’s stories, visit her author page.