UPDATE: Parking agreement on City Commission agenda for Sept. 17Decatur City Hall.
UPDATE: The amendment was approved at the Sept. 17 City Commission meeting. Here is our earlier story …
The Decatur City Commission is considering an amendment to its parking management agreement with SP Plus Corporation as part of a plan to increase the cost of on-street parking to $3 an hour and extend enforcement hours.
Previously, Decaturish reported that this amendment had already been approved. However, City Manager Peggy Merriss clarified that only the proposal had been approved. The contract amendment will be considered at the City Commission’s Sept. 17 meeting, which begins with a work session at 6:30 p.m. and will be held at City Hall, located at 509 North McDonough Street. All meetings are open to the public.
Under the proposed changes, parking will be $3 an hour from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The city also will enforce the two hour parking limit after 6 p.m., a city budget document says. That means if you park at 5:30 p.m. and stay until 8:30 p.m., you are in violation of the two hour limit and will receive a parking ticket. The fine for exceeding the two hour limit is $25.
Assistant City Manager Lyn Menne addressed some of the criticism of the proposal. She said the goal isn’t to punish people or generate more money for the city.
“It’s about encouraging and making sure we have parking spaces available,” she said.
Menne said the city is also exploring ways to make available parking easier to find. She said the city is considering using a smart phone application that would show users where parking spaces are available.
She said the city is not trying to make people drive less by increasing parking rates and extending parking enforcement hours.
“That’s not what we’re looking at it for,” she said. “If you are driving, we want those spaces turning over a reasonable number of times so you at least have an expectation of being able to find a space. If parking was free in downtown Decatur, by 10 a.m. there would be no parking places left and there would be no parking spaces left throughout the day.”
She also said that there’s plenty of parking in downtown Decatur, just not a lot of free parking.
“It’s very limited,” she said. “That’s the way most urban areas are going to be.”
There will be an opportunity for public comment prior to the vote on the parking management agreement.