City paves way for paid parking downtown

By July, the city plans to convert free downtown parking to paid lots, said Sharon Crosson, the city’s parking and telecommunications manager.

While the rates have not been set in stone, Crosson told a crowd of about 20 at the public input session Wednesday night that she was looking at $.50 an hour during the day and “possibly $1 an hour at night” with a $5 cap for the entire night.

“We’re not going to make our rates so high that you don’t want to come down here,” Crosson said.

We’re not going to make our rates so high that you don’t want to come down here.

— Sharon Crosson

Most of the public comment came in the form of questions about how and what kind of system the city plans on implementing for the parking in the entertainment district.

A pay-upon-exit system will likely be established for the lots, and possibly 20 machines will be stationed for street parking, Crosson said.

Switching to paid parking will make enforcement of violations more consistent because the city will issue citations, probably in the ballpark of $25, she said, as opposed to being towed or booted in private lots. Also, the revenue generated will pave the way for a parking deck downtown.

“In this economy, this is about the only place that we’re going to get money to build a deck,” she said.

Crosson estimated the parking could generate $1 million each year, which will be directed toward building a deck.

Pay Parking Area

The city is looking into the latest technology for the parking machines from Associated Time and Parking Controls, including paying by credit card and text-message alerts when a customer’s time is close to expiring.

The city’s first priority is to make a residential parking program that would be free for the residents in the area, including parking for guests, Crosson said.

The parking program will encompass several components, including parking options for employees who work in the entertainment district, merchant validation programs and selling monthly passes.

“This is going to be a huge process and we have a very short timeline that we are really trying to implement this,” Crosson said.

Two more meetings for public input have been scheduled for March 31 and April 1. Stay tuned to the Flyer for the where and when details for those meetings.

Staff Note: The included map shows the entire Entertainment District pay parking area. The brown lines indicate parking that will most likely be free for residents. The green lines represent paid parking for non-residents. It is yet to be determined if residents will be able to park in the green line areas for free or if they’ll have to pay to park there. The orange lots are currently free and are owned by the city, but will definitely become paid lots. The pink lots are privately owned and are currently (and will remain) paid lots. The city’s goal is to work with the private lot owners to create some consistency between how it charges (or fines) people and how the private lot owners charge (or fine) people. The hope is to eliminate towing and booting.

Mary Robbins is a regular contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. She 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 contributions, visit her author page.