It's been the system for year's downtown, you park and there's no meter to pay and really no worry of a ticket.
"I think it's great, I remember the first time I came out here, left my car over night one time. [I] figured it was towed, not the case," says eric hardiman, who said he was a downtown Augusta regular. "You like the way it is?" we asked. "It should be," he said.
But, not everyone agrees, and a Downtown Parking Committee is working on a parking plan to prevent cars from staying all day in the parking spots in the Broad Street area.
"We're trying to recruit new business and we need to have spaces for customers to come in and be able to shop," says committee member Margaret Woodard, of the Downtown Development Authority.
A parking committee study found that 30.4 percent of the cars parking in the Broad Street area stay put for six to seven hours. So, to increase turnover, the committee is looking at making people pay to park, like putting in parking meters.
"Something has to control it. I would think parking meters would be the most simplest thing...if you hire meter maids, that would cost us more than meters would. We need some mechanism to keep the flow of traffic moving," says Commissioner Marion Williams.
"Anytime we go to another community, of similar size, there are typically parking meters, and an enforcement mechanism in place," says city developer and committee member, John Paul Stout.
But, to make parking meters work downtown, there would have to be someone to write tickets, and someone to hear appeals. But, parking committee members say other places do that with a special city department.
"I've seen it done in-house. Charleston and Savannah do a real good job of it, so it could be done that way," says Deputy City Administrator Bill Shanahan, who chairs the committee.
The committee did not discuss just how much it would cost the city to put in meters, or similar devices, though the DDA's plan of two years ago to install electronic discs in parking spots downtown would have cost $885,000.
The committee is expected to take another thirty days finalizing the parking plan and then will make a recommendation to the Augusta Commission for final approval.
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