No sneaky parking meter installation

George Moorehouse gave me a call yesterday concerned that he’d walk outside one day and find parking meters downtown. He lives in the Strand Hotel on Colby and said paid parking would make it difficult for him to park out front and get his groceries upstairs — among other activites.

I’ve written before about the parking situation downtown. It’s a tough problem without an easy solution. Some business owners don’t like the aggressive enforcement of the 90-minute free street parking because it scares off customers. Others don’t like paid parking. If nothing is done at all, people — many of them downtown employees — fill up spaces in front of businesses making it difficult for customers to find a spot.

City officials have said paid parking is probably coming but not until shoppers are taking up most street parking on a regular basis. They’ve said they want downtown businesses to be a part of that conversation. My understanding is that when that conversation happens, it will happen in a public setting and with some warning. Just to check, I asked city engineer Ryan Sass.

Here’s what he told me:

“No plans for any stealth metering or pay to park. We will continue to monitor parking utilization rates in the Central Business District. When utilization rates meet thresholds that suggest more active management of parking is needed according to our parking study, we will open dialog with downtown businesses and the public. The reader can rest easy…”

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