The Downtown Parking Advisory Commission voted 6-0 last week to recommend going forward with the first phase of a plan to encourage drivers to use off-square parking lots for longer stays, leaving storefront parking open for short-term visitors.
The commission is advising that the city contract with Standard Parking to install pay stations at which drivers would pay $1 per hour to park on the Square and along nearby blocks of North and South Lamar Boulevard and Jackson and Van Buren Avenues.
"This is not about making money, it's about managing the parking," said commission member Larry Sparks.
Parking transactions would be made by coin, bank card or prepaid cards.
"Disposable cards can be sold at gift shops, and some shops (will) offer them to their customers as an amenity," a Standard Parking representative said.
Customers who use bank cards will pay a fractionally higher rate, said City Clerk Lisa Carwyle, because state law prohibits the city from absorbing bank fees for credit and debit cards.
If the Board of Aldermen approves the contract with Standard Parking, the company's representatives will soon visit to recommend where the solar-powered pay stations would be installed.
"We'd want them located where they're not a hindrance to the walking public and the merchants," said Jeff Triplette, the commission's chairman.
A public hearing will be held 6 p.m. on May 15 at City Hall.