City gleans paid parking feedback

At the beginning of each of the parking input sessions this week, a draft of the imminent paid parking program was distributed to the crowd. But, even with the proposal, city staff is still amenable to changes to the plan.

The meeting Wednesday night was geared toward addressing the residential parking program. So far, the city has proposed a zone where only residents who live in the area can park.

However, some residents at the input session said the residential zone would not provide enough parking to accommodate all of the neighbors.

To placate those concerns, Sharon Crosson, the parking and telecommunications manager, said she had considered making all the parking in the entertainment district paid, and not having a residential zone. With that plan, residents would still have a permit that would allow them to park anywhere around their home, free of charge.

(If you’re looking at the map, this plan would change all the neighborhood parking to the green color, as opposed to green and brown.)

But, the residents countered, with that system, the public could still park in front of their home if they paid the fee.

That’s when a representative from the Walton Arts Center, Tim Vogt, suggested a hybrid system, where the residents would have the option of parking in the paid parking area free of charge, in addition to the permit-required zone.

Crosson seemed to approve this idea, saying near the end of the meeting “I think that’s the best of both worlds.”

In the paid parking area, the city will propose a reduced rate for employees who work on Dickson Street, Crosson said at the Thursday afternoon meeting with some Dickson Street merchants. A 90 percent discount for employees was thrown out at the meeting Thursday afternoon, though the final price has not been determined. The discounted rate would not apply to the premium spots, Crosson said.

In December, the City Council approved three resolutions asserting their commitment to institute a paid parking system in the entertainment district. One of those resolutions was aimed at the city acquiring the ability to manage the private lots around Dickson Street. If the city patrolled the lots, they would issue a citation for over-parked, instead of enforcing by towing or booting cars, Crosson explained.

However, a legal issue might arise if the city issued a citation for a violation on private property, City Attorney Kit Williams said at the meeting. In November, Williams requested for the Arkansas Attorney General to form an official opinion on the matter, but he has not received an answer, Williams said.

That piece of the parking program is not included in the draft proposal.

At the town hall meeting on Monday night, Crosson said she hoped to have a proposal submitted by the end of this week. The city is aiming for a late July start-date for switching to paid parking.

Before enacting the new system, the plan would have to be approved by the City Council.

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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.