Public sees two sides to meters plan

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As dozens of people roamed the White's Building on Broad Street at noon to see the details of a proposal to bring back parking meters, people outside the meeting were facing the problem the meters are supposed to address: finding somewhere to park.

"We had to loop a couple of times, but we finally found one," said Melissa Scheff, of Savannah, Ga. Ms. Scheff was visiting downtown Augusta for a business conference. She said she didn't think parking meters were a good idea for downtown, saying that searching for parking spaces is part of the downtown experience.

Cory Brooks looked for 15 minutes for a parking place, finally finding one in a median lot on Broad Street.

"Parking is definitely a problem down here," he said. "A lot of people aren't going to pay to park, though."

In the meeting -- one of two held Thursday meant to answer questions on the proposal -- the debate continued about whether the meters would draw more people downtown by giving them better access to shops or drive them away so they don't have to pay for something that's been free for 30 years.

Last week the Downtown Development Authority of Augusta proposed to meter 1,000 parking spaces on Broad Street and some of the side streets next year.

It would cost $1 million to install the meters.

Parking in those spaces would cost $1 an hour, with two- or four-hour limits between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays.

The intent, according to the DDA, is to get more turnover of parking spaces in order to build more customer traffic. The meters would force workers and downtown residents to find other areas to park during the day.

Bryan Haltermann, an owner of downtown apartments, said he has mixed feelings about bringing back parking meters.

"I think it is going to hurt residential. I'm not sure it is the best way to help retail," he said at the public meeting. "We have very little good retail downtown, and it isn't because of parking."

He said he's sure it would turn over parking spaces on Broad, but he's concerned about the effect on residents.

"People come home from work at 5 o'clock and are going to want to park."

Dave Steele, the owner of The Window Gallery on Broad, said some of his concerns revolve around his workers. They can't afford $8 a day to park.

"If we force people to park on back streets, there's going to be burglaries, violence. These are dark back streets. I don't want the women who work for me to have to go into a dark street to retrieve their car," he said.

Mr. Steele suggested that the city wait to see what effect the 400-space parking deck for the proposed trade, exhibit and event center has on the downtown. He also suggested increased enforcement of the current rules.

Right now, parking is free for two hours, with a $20 fine for a violation.

DDA officials argue that there is lax enforcement and that the tickets have no bite.

"Enforce what's there. It doesn't have to be a deputy; it can be a different kind of employee. Have high fines and enforce it," Mr. Steele said.

Lara Plocha, the president of the downtown merchants association, said a majority of the members are unsure about the meters.

"Right off the bat, there were people immediately for it and immediately against it," she said.

She echoed Mr. Steele's sentiment about enforcement and posed the question to DDA board member Paul King.

"It generates funds to pay for the enforcement. It is a package," Mr. King replied. "The commission just cut $1 million from the sheriff's budget."

Since the proposal was made, Mr. King has gotten a lot of feedback, he said, and most of it has been negative.

"Anyone who is used to free parking on Broad Street who doesn't own a building or a store is opposed," he said. "Every study I see tells me it is good for downtown. What am I going to believe, a knee jerk reaction or science?"

The DDA said in its study that meters generate $150 to $300 per space per day to retailers.

The proposal will be finished over the next few weeks and presented to the Augusta Commission for approval in January.

Implementation would be expected after Masters Week.

"What's the plan if it doesn't work? It actually causes harm. What's Plan B?" Mr. Haltermann asked.

The meeting at 6 p.m. saw more of the same opinions voiced, with close to 30 people coming out to hear about the DDA's plan for parking meters and downtown development.

Reach Gracie Shepherd or Tim Rausch at (706) 724-0851.

THE PROPOSAL

- Spend $1 million to buy 1,000 new technology-smart parking meters for Broad Street from Fifth to 13th streets, and side streets within a block. Parking would remain free from Ellis Street south.

- Parking would cost $1 per hour from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, free on weekends. On-street parking would have a 2-hour limit. Median spaces would have a 4-hour limit.

- The DDA would be in charge of enforcement and use the proceeds for beautification.

WHAT'S NEXT

The Downtown Development Authority will finish writing the rules for the Broad Street corridor parking plan and present it to the Augusta Commission in January. If approved, the DDA will need to come up with $1 million to buy the meters. Implementation would not be complete until after April.

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Fundamental_Arminian
1849
Points
Fundamental_Arminian 12/18/09 - 04:15 am
0
0
According to the article,

According to the article, "the DDA said in its study that meters generate $150 to $300 per space per day to retailers." Does the DDA doesn't intend to give retailers the parking fees collected? According to the proposal below the article, the DDA intends to use the parking proceeds for beautification. I for one think the most beautiful thing is to see vacant store buildings in use again. Parking meters will probably drive customers away and lead to more vacant buildings.

Tobie2
0
Points
Tobie2 12/18/09 - 07:16 am
0
0
Why would I pay to park in

Why would I pay to park in downtown Augusta?
I can park free at the mall or just shoot across the river to North Augusta.

thewiz0oz
9
Points
thewiz0oz 12/18/09 - 08:45 am
0
0
People shop at a particular

People shop at a particular location because of price, uniqueness or convenience. The question to be faced in Downtown Augusta is how can we get a higher occupancy rate of the empty buildings there & how can we attract more upscale shops to locate here? The answer is shoppers with money who are able to easily get to their destinations. If most of our street parking spaces are being used for long-term parking by non-shoppers we will never be able to .Significantly increase traffic flow into downtown. Are we happy with the status quo or do we want to develop a vibrant progressive shopping district? Our musical-chair approach to long-term parkers using short-term parking spaces has not been good. The "honor-system" has not worked. By the way, the term "status quo" is a code word for "slow death". Status quo does not exist -- life moves in two directions -- either forward or backward.

crackertroy
540
Points
crackertroy 12/18/09 - 08:50 am
0
0
"I think that [parking
Unpublished

"I think that [parking meters] would alleviate the all-day parking issue," Ms. Boardman said. Please post if you have EVER had a parking issue in downtown Augusta. Fourth of July fireworks doesn't count. Besides, Americans, Augustans need to get off their fat a----- and walk!

jegreencreek
0
Points
jegreencreek 12/18/09 - 08:56 am
0
0
"If you build it they will

"If you build it they will come" does not apply to putting parking meters downtown. more like they will go somewhere else.
There is supposed to be enforcement of a two hour parking limit which is not being enforced, why not make the system work? Spend the million dollars to provide safe parking for all the workers who are taking the spaces?

thewiz0oz
9
Points
thewiz0oz 12/18/09 - 09:00 am
0
0
The key to Downtown Augusta

The key to Downtown Augusta is uniqueness & convenience -- the WalMart shopper will not be interested in shopping Downtown -- someone looking for a 6-pack of beer or toothpaste can find these items in many locations -- the unique landscape, buildings, history alongside the river that Oglethorpe navigated over two-hundred years ago, the City that George Washington visited in 1792, the first state capitol of Georgia and the home town of three signers of the Declaration of Independence and where Woodrow Wilson & Joseph Lamar played baseball together as kids before one served as President of the United States while the other served on the U.S. Supreme Court at the same time --we capture that uniqueness and mix it with convenient retail and dining experience --- that is Downtown Augusta's future -- fast food and chinese imports are not what its all about.

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 12/18/09 - 09:05 am
0
0
thewiz, one of the prime

thewiz, one of the prime ctrl+c ctrl+v offenders. Sanford Lloyd, the transportation committe member who was at the meeting, was very dismissive of any arguments from store owners who said parking was not a problem. I fail to see how the DDA getting money from parking fees would keep property taxes down. That group is a sinkhole for public funds. I put in several questions into their suvey box (after Lloyd told me in so many words he had better things to do than talk to me) hopefully they will get back to me. I will be at the commission meeting to speak out against this. Classic case of cart before horse. Not only that but bad timing too. At best, the middle of a recession folks!

thewiz0oz
9
Points
thewiz0oz 12/18/09 - 09:27 am
0
0
Parking meters are like a

Parking meters are like a root canal -- only a fool would love either -- however, both exist to solve a problem -- I have watched Downtown Augusta struggle with parking problems for over 50 years -- unfortunately, the people of Augusta are more reactive than proactive -- a root can delayed usually means a tooth extraction -- I would rather have controlled parking with meters than loss opportunity because a Banana Republic or a Ann Taylors ladies shop passed us by because we could not manage our parking problems -- my challenge to everyone protesting meters is to come up with a viable long-term solution -- just saying enforce the parking restrictions is not good enough -- history has proven that -- and look at what downtown can be -- not just what it is -- we have too great a treasure here to blow an opportunity of our generation -- look at the new Master Plan for Augusta & North Augusta -- lets be proactive.

Little Lamb
46046
Points
Little Lamb 12/18/09 - 09:28 am
0
0
Six commission votes can kill

Six commission votes can kill this parking meter idea. Call your commissioner(s) and tell them to vote NO when the DDA comes calling.

thewiz0oz
9
Points
thewiz0oz 12/18/09 - 09:31 am
0
0
Parking meters are like a

Parking meters are like a root canal -- only a fool would love either -- however, both exist to solve a problem -- I have watched Downtown Augusta struggle with parking problems for over 50 years -- unfortunately, the people of Augusta are more reactive than proactive -- a root canal delayed usually means a tooth extraction -- I would rather have controlled parking with meters than loss opportunity because a Banana Republic or a Ann Taylors ladies shop passed us by because we could not manage our parking problems -- my challenge to everyone protesting meters is to come up with a viable long-term solution -- just saying enforce the parking restrictions is not good enough -- history has proven that -- and look at what downtown can be -- not just what it is -- we have too great a treasure here to blow an opportunity of our generation -- look at the new Master Plan for Augusta & North Augusta -- lets be proacti

1987Dawg
0
Points
1987Dawg 12/18/09 - 09:57 am
0
0
The problem with parking

The problem with parking downtown are the business owners that park in front of their business all day everyday. There are 4 businesses on the 1200 block of Broad that take up 15 - 20 parking spaces every day, and one of those has a truck parked out front 24 hours a day seven days a week. These business owners and their employees should be required to park behind thier buildings or in paid lots.

JaonMcMalty
0
Points
JaonMcMalty 12/18/09 - 10:03 am
0
0
Neighboring employees park in

Neighboring employees park in front of our property 5-days a week. They could care less if our tenant has customers or if we even have a tenant at all. Bring on the meters. Consider flexible rates for less used blocks.

Little Lamb
46046
Points
Little Lamb 12/18/09 - 10:04 am
0
0
Wiz, if the city is not

Wiz, if the city is not enforcing the parking ordinance now, they are not likely to enforce it with meters once the novelty wears off.

Brad Owens
4449
Points
Brad Owens 12/18/09 - 10:07 am
0
0
I think the arrogance of Paul

I think the arrogance of Paul King's statements about sums up the entire way the DDA views the people it is there to serve. He sez, and I quote,"Every study I see tells me it is good for downtown. What am I going to believe, a knee jerk reaction or science?" That really says it all doesn't folks? in his comments where his syas that the store owners are 'reactionary.' Defund the Dirty Deals Authority (DDA). has this gone before the DAP? The DAP is the stakeholder group that is supposed to be advising the commission on ideas that affect downtown. It was my understanding that the DDA did not hold the caucus/elections for the DAP so that it would be forgotten. Add that onto the list of reasons to disband the DDA. By the way, County Ord created the DAP and it answers to the COMMISSION not the DDA. If I were the commission, I would demand the DDA have the imput of the DAP before it can be considered.

miles_kilpatrick
0
Points
miles_kilpatrick 12/18/09 - 10:10 am
0
0
parking problem??!? i've been

parking problem??!? i've been working / hanging out DT for the last nine years and have never noticed a parking problem.... unless you consider not being able to park directly in front of a store a problem. God forbid you have to walk more than 3 blocks. (worse case saniario.)

LaTwon
1
Points
LaTwon 12/18/09 - 10:14 am
0
0
buy the severely distressed

buy the severely distressed properties and tear them down.
there is one on nearly every block. create more parking.
sorta like the commons. fill in those damn holes and put the street back to what it was before. put in turnabouts everycouple of blocks like aiken has every couple of blocks. make every other street one way and use the eliminated lane for parking space.

themaninthemirror
0
Points
themaninthemirror 12/18/09 - 10:18 am
0
0
While they are at it, they

While they are at it, they should install Portable Pay Toilets. This is a great idea, especially around the lower end of Broad Street. Issue tokens to the homeless, so they would have restroom facilities, put in ATM's and credit card machines,provide reading material, and cheap cologne, and wifi internet service, pipe in music with an occassional commercial for downtown business.If you build it, surely they will be standing in line to access it.

Brad Owens
4449
Points
Brad Owens 12/18/09 - 10:21 am
0
0
Joe, you listening? The DAP

Joe, you listening? The DAP is THE group created by the Commission to handle issues like this where there is vbound to be diverse opinions. Why rush now? It has taken seven years to get the plan based on the study, well, seven years old. What is a few more months so that the stakeholders can have REAL iput, not this dog and pony show that menas NOTHING? This needs to go before the DAP and elections, as per the county ord, are to be held this month to seat new members for the incoming year. Looks like the DDA should be planning a caucus even through the Directro did not do any last year and hence broke the requirment in the ord that she facilitate the caucus EVERY year in Dec. Where is the DAP? Whay have the DDA took it upon themselves to disband the DAP without Commission approval? The DDA CANNOT disband the DAP, the DAP answers to the COMMISSION not the DDA.These guys never liked the DAP because they could not control them (and that was what it was supposed to be about, a group that helped the commission on issues affecting downtown.)

Just Another Day
0
Points
Just Another Day 12/18/09 - 10:23 am
0
0
JUST NUTS says ="This will

JUST NUTS says ="This will only benefit you know who and the AWM. The non minority media is trying to portrait this as a "good thing" for everybody. I will chain myself to one of these parking meters, go on a hunger strike to show my disdain for humanity and this article. Great country eh?"

Brad Owens
4449
Points
Brad Owens 12/18/09 - 10:31 am
0
0
Just another day, why are you

Just another day, why are you guys in love with justus? even if he doesn't post you all post for him. What gives?

deekster
24
Points
deekster 12/18/09 - 10:31 am
0
0
Fire all of the ARC employees

Fire all of the ARC employees and outsource the management of Disgusta to the " N. Augusta Government". It seems they have no problem with pro-action, progress, water distribution, or law enforcement. Of course we would want DEKE to become the Mayor of the "trans-river" joint government. He could alternate between First Baptist and NA First Baptist on Sundays.

Batman
18
Points
Batman 12/18/09 - 10:32 am
0
0
In my opinion parking meters

In my opinion parking meters are a bad idea and will be perceived as yet another tax. This is the worst possible time to impose another tax on people and particularly small businesses. In Gatlinburg, TN the lack of street parking is a huge issue yet the city addresses the issue with a motorized trolley system. Their trolley system has several common parking areas that are routinely policed. Would this not be a better way to address the parking issue in downtown Augusta. Simply identify a few large parking areas and run some trolleys. I'd be willing to pay a nominal fee for such a 'service' than a nominal 'tax' to park my car. Also, the trolleys would had a special ambiance or flavor to the downtown area. Fares in Gatlinburg are 50 cents to 2 dollars depending of length of the ride. I'm sure the DDA could get a grant to buy some environmentally "green" perhaps propane or natural gas driven trolleys. Here is Gatlinburg's trolley website... http://www.ci.gatlinburg.tn.us/transit/trolley.htm

deekster
24
Points
deekster 12/18/09 - 10:37 am
0
0
Parking enforcement is

Parking enforcement is simple. Hire a "private company" to manage the parking meters. Violators "license plates" would be removed and held until the fine is paid. There are plenty of empty storefronts on Broad St. available for a "Parking Management Group", PMG for short. I'm sure local government has relatives waiting for some juicy graft. ClubCar will provide the carts. We certainly would not want anyone "walking" on Broad St. enforcing some kind of law.

southernguy08
499
Points
southernguy08 12/18/09 - 10:39 am
0
0
DDA, if you put paid parking
Unpublished

DDA, if you put paid parking back in downtown, I hope you'll provide the merchants free moving vans when they close.

aikenbeliever
2
Points
aikenbeliever 12/18/09 - 10:41 am
0
0
I currently reside in a

I currently reside in a downtown apartment leased from Mr. Halterman. There are pluses and minuses connected with living downtown and parking is usually hard to find. But, it can be done. However, if I have to pay to park I will definitely move. My neighbors all share my viewpoint. So, can someone explain how this will be good for the downtown economy?

inAUGsince1832
0
Points
inAUGsince1832 12/18/09 - 10:44 am
0
0
Aiken doesn't have parking

Aiken doesn't have parking meters...

Several business owners agree that they feel people are more inclined to visit their store if they could park directly in front of it. Show me any downtown where you can park in front of the store you wish to shop in at any given time! It doesn't exist. Whether you are in Charleston, Savannah, Aiken, Macon, or Augusta, expect to have to walk (gasp! just like in the mall!) to your shopping destination.

cleanup
0
Points
cleanup 12/18/09 - 10:56 am
0
0
I will be doing my best to

I will be doing my best to look into the DDA, its members, and the corruption it obviously embraces. There is no parking problem, therefore the solution is just to fill the coffers of people like Paul King, who we already know is just in it for himself and his greed.

dequerius
0
Points
dequerius 12/18/09 - 11:00 am
0
0
its time to dismantle the

its time to dismantle the downtown development authority and send its director to venezuela where comrade chavez can put her to good use. if parking meters come downtown, ill take my dollars elsewhere .

Brad Owens
4449
Points
Brad Owens 12/18/09 - 11:04 am
0
0
This is nothing but an

This is nothing but an attempt to get the DDA some more oney to squander on non-sense like Trolley Studies.

Brad Owens
4449
Points
Brad Owens 12/18/09 - 11:15 am
0
0
cleanup, look into the DDA

cleanup, look into the DDA and why they have not followed county directives on electing the Downtown Advisory Panel (DAP). The DAP was created by the commission to be their DIRECT advisory group on issues affecting downtown. It is made up of 'stakeholder' groups and each group elects a rep for a one year term. It is kinda like a mini city-council and it is supposed to vet things going before the commission and provide their advice and recommendations. The DDA should have to run their ideas through this elected and accountable group. The DAP is a good starrting point to get tehy DDA in check.

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