Authority proposes parking meters for downtown Augusta

The Downtown Development Authority of Augusta approved a proposal this morning that would bring back parking meters to Broad Street and some side streets.

About 1,000 meters would be installed after Masters Week if approved.

Public meetings on the parking meter proposal are being scheduled for Dec. 17.

The DDA plans to bring the plan to the Augusta Commission in January.

The smart meters would cost $1 million to install and would generate between $300,000 and $500,000 in revenue annually, according to Margaret Woodard, the DDA's executive director.

“It is long overdue. If you ever come downtown to eat lunch … there’s nowhere to park. That’s an inconvenience to the people trying to come downtown and shop,” said Commissioner Joe Bowles.

Mr. Bowles sees SPLOST as a possible source of money to install the meters, which are projected to pay off the investment in four years.

The city hasn’t had meter-controlled parking on Broad Street in 31 years. The meters were removed in 1978 in the adoption of the free two-hour parking downtown, which was enforced by parking control agents. It was done as a way to entice downtown shopping during a time when two shopping malls had opened.

Robert Cizek, strategic consultant with StreetSmart Technology in Kennesaw, Ga., said the city is in need of meters based on a study of available spaces during peak times of the day – noontime for example, where there is generally 100 percent occupancy of the spaces on the Broad Street corridor.

“To right size you convenient parking, you want at least 20 percent vacant at peak. If you don’t have that, then it is inconvenient to park,” Mr. Cizek said. “Everyone is cruising and leaving.”

Mr. Cizek said there have been consulting firm that have measured that each parking space generates between $150 and $300 a day in retail sales.

Under the proposal, the DDA will manage the enforcement of downtown parking. The authority is "in talks" with an Atlanta-based collection agency to write tickets and collect fines.

Ms. Woodard said net income from the system will be used for downtown beautification.

HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY ABOUT PARKING METERS?

The DDA will hold two public meetings on the proposal to bring parking meters back to the Broad Street corridor.

Thursday, Dec. 17, noon, lobby of the White’s Building, 936 Broad St.

Thursday, Dec. 17, 6 p.m., lobby of the White’s Building, 936 Broad St.

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