Business owners, customers react to downtown pay-to-park meters

CSRA News

Paying to park is back in question for the downtown area. The city and the parking company they chose, SP Plus, will had a stakeholder outreach meeting.

NewsChannel 6 spoke to business owners and customers and we got mixed reviews.

In front of Sunshine Bakery, there are marks on the ground where old meters used to be. So, this isn’t something the downtown area hasn’t seen before, but certain demographics say this could hurt the city more than help it.

The streets are busy and people are frequenting restaurants, which is something the city has worked to improve, but some say it might drive them away from the area.

College student, Emma Kerekanich, says, “I think we would try to find places not downtown. So, anyways we are not going to be providing that revenue for downtown Augusta in the first place, and then it’s also going to limit the amount of time we can spend downtown.”

Emma Kerekanich is a college student who lives paycheck to paycheck. She says it is something she simply cannot afford.

“As a college student, you don’t park at places you have to pay for. You Uber or you find other ways around it because you have to pay for food instead,” says Kerekanich. “So, it’s not just something that we can just budget in and find ways for parking. It is not a necessity for us.”

This might hurt some local businesses in the area, like Sunshine Bakery.

Gene Gurley, the owner, says he doesn’t believe it will solve any issues.

“There’s a two hour maximum, I believe, and I’ve looked into other cities just to see what I was talking about,” says Gurley. “It’s usually about $1.50 or $2.00 for the first hour and then you have to come back and put more money in. Some kiosks may work different. I just don’t think it’s a good idea.”

He also says it will be an extra expense for his business.

“I’m going to have to put signs up that says Sunshine Bakery parking only,” says Gurley.

However, there are those customers who see the good in paying to park.

Renee Schmidt is a man who frequents downtown. He says, “I think that people that are willing to spend money will still come downtown. I think a dollar doesn’t make a difference for parking. It’s an insignificant amount of money.”

Freeing up space and giving the city revenue is the missing factor for businesses who want to rent a space downtown.

“I know for a fact that some companies who would like to relocate downtown doesn’t relocate because there is not available parking spaces,” says Schmidt.

There will be three meetings held to explain how the new machines will work. The first one was at 6:00 PM in the Municipal Building. The next two will be in the Chamber of Commerce Tuesday at 11:30 AM and 6:00 PM.

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