The Downtown Parking Commission voted Friday to recommend reclassifying 18 spaces on Madison Avenue and 12 on Jackson Avenue northeast of the Square, subject to Board of Aldermen approval.
“We’re going to propose that we move some of the two-hour parking back to free parking,” said City Planner Tim Akers. The city instituted an 8 a.m. to8 p.m., two-hour limit on all downtown streetside parking in late November.
“[Thursday], when many of the lots were full, four or five cars were parked on that part of Madison,” Akers said.
Commission Chairman Jeff Triplette said the full long-term lots are actually a good sign.
“We’ve pushed employee parking off the Square, which we wanted to do, because it took away from customer parking,” he said. “We still have a problem with employees ... taking all the free parking. We’re trying to get employees to move just a tad further.”
Commission members also voted to recommend “event parking” sites for approval to the Board of Aldermen to enable vehicles for bands and other acts to unload and load two west of the Square on 10th and 11th streets and one on Harrison Avenue east of Lamar Boulevard. The recommendations are subject to approval by police, fire and public works heads.
In further discussions about the new city parking lot northwest of the Square and the need for a parking garage which would likely be built east of City Hall, Triplette reiterated the commission’s stance that the Board of Aldermen’s rejection of paid parking limits the options for managing the resource.
“When it’s free, it’s hard to move folks around. This commission looked at paid parking early on to accomplish some of these things,” Triplette said. “We got a lot of pushback on that. Maybe we should go back and revisit that.”
Patsy Engelhard, whose store is just off the Square, said, “I used to be strongly against paid parking, but ... I think that’s a good thing to do.”