Paid parking plan sees round 1 before the council

Hey, have you guys heard about this new paid parking proposal for the Dickson Street area? The ordinances and resolutions to move toward that system were discussed at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Five items are proposed to change the current system. Here’s the breakdown:

First up on the agenda, we have an ordinance that covers the Residential Parking Program. The plan is divvied up between those residents who live north of Dickson Street, and those who live on the south side.

For each vehicle that is registered to an address within the residential zone, one permit will be issued. The permit will be free of charge to the resident and ensure that they will not be ticketed when parked in the zone.

At tonight’s meeting, Julie Dorrough, the president of the Dickson Street Neighborhood Association, said many vehicles belonging to residents are not necessarily registered to the address in the downtown area. For example, student residents might have cars that are registered to their permanent address in their hometown, not for their address in Fayetteville.

Also, the ordinance requires that residents must renew their permit quarterly, which Dorrough said was onerous.

No amendments were offered to address those concerns, though Don Marr said by the next meeting the city would offer some recommendations to the council.

Moving on, the second ordinance will enact the pay-station program.

The public comment at the meeting was overwhelmingly in support of the new plan. Many of the comments came from representatives from the Walton Arts Center and echoed the benefit to the WAC stands to gain.

Sharon Crosson, the city’s parking and telecommunications manager, has said the WAC’s chief complaint from patrons was parking, and this program would alleviate that concern.

Next up is the ordinance that changes and sets new fines for over-parked cars. The first offense for an over-parked car will be $10. The second offense is $15 and three or more offenses will result in a $25 ticket. If the ticket is not paid within two weeks, the city will levy a $25 fine.

The third parking ordinance on the agenda addresses the purchase of equipment, such as new pay stations.

The city will lease-to-own the machines. Crosson said at the town hall meeting on Monday night that the city expects to be able to pay off the machines in 24 months.

This resolution was passed at the meeting to allow city’s parking consultant to start negotiations, which should conclude within a couple of weeks, Crosson said.

Lastly, there is an ordinance that stipulates the budget adjustment needed for the new parking program, which, for the last six months in 2010 will round out to $498,542. That includes the expenses of hiring two new parking personnel ($63,364 in salaries) and leasing the equipment ($177,648).

Also, the budget sets an allocation of $144,500 payable to the Walton Arts Center. The allowance to the WAC is done on a yearly basis, so annually, the WAC would receive $289,000.

The city attorney, Kit Williams, has expressed an interest in making that allocation contingent on the WAC staying in Fayetteville. However, that agreement is not a part of ordinance as it stands right now.

Again, all the comments from the public on this resolution were positive and mainly came from representatives of the WAC.

Fifty percent of the WAC’s budget comes from donations, which in their ever-growing operating costs, has been more difficult to maintain, Terri Trotter, chief operating officer for the WAC, said. Ticket prices have hit a ceiling, she continued.

The new parking plan will give the city a chance to make “a bold statement” to confirm Fayetteville’s support for the arts, Trotter said.

The resolution regarding the budget adjustment was tabled until the next meeting.

In addition to this program, the city wants to acquire the management rights to private lots around the Entertainment District. Crosson has said this would create a more uniform parking system for the area, as well as help eliminate the towing and booting enforcement policies.

However, that measure is stalled and not a part of the ordinances being considered now. Williams said he was waiting on an opinion from the Arkansas Attorney General about the legality of issuing a criminal citation on a privately owned lot.

No adjustments to the parking along the Fayetteville Square are proposed at this time.

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.