Paid parking plan for Dickson Street passes unanimously

The ordinances launching paid parking in the entertainment district and establishing a residential parking program were unanimously approved by the Fayetteville City Council on Tuesday night.

For city-owned parking areas around Dickson Street, the rates will be $.50 an hour during the day and $1 an hour at night. The city wants to implement this plan before students return for the fall semester.

The public understands why the council is enacting the new system, said Alderman Matthew Petty, who represents Ward 2.

“We need to do this,” Petty said. “It’s the only way to keep Dickson Street growing.”

We need to do this. It’s the only way to keep Dickson Street growing.

— Matthew Petty, City Council Ward 2

In addition to changing most parking to paid, the plan creates residential zones where only cars with an appropriate permit are allowed to park. Residents will also have the option of getting 31 day-passes for guests, or getting two hanging tags that would be equivalent to the residential permit.

Sharon Crosson, the parking and telecommunications manager, said free parking is still accessible around Dickson Street. Employees who work in the entertainment district can use the Central United Methodist parking deck, for example, which is a similar distance from Dickson Street as the Northwest Arkansas Mall’s employee parking, she said.

Members of the public who rose to speak on the issue generally praised the new program, citing the benefit to the Walton Arts Center. None of the comments were critical of the ordinances. Applause from some members of the public accompanied the final approving vote.

The council also agreed 7-1 to the budget adjustment needed to start the program, including adding 2.5 new full-time paid positions and allotting $289,000 each year to the Walton Arts Center. Alderman Bobby Ferrell was the only no vote.

Before the vote was taken, Ferrell said he did not have a problem allotting some of the paid parking revenue to the WAC, but did not want to add new staff. He pointed out that the city already has 13 positions that are unfilled because of budget constraints.

Although the program’s budget allows for the allocation to the WAC, a contract between the city and the arts center will still need to be set. The contract will come before the council for approval, Mayor Lioneld Jordan said.

The WAC’s portion of the income will be applied to better programming and further subsidizing tickets for young students, said Jeff Schomburger, board chairman for the WAC.