AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Augusta Commissioners gave the public a chance to learn more about pay to park options coming to downtown Augusta. Those people who attended also shared their concerns.
One concern was how when you go to the area during certain times, you circle the block several times and then you pull into a spot. Downtown parking may be tough to find, but it’s free for now. That could all change soon.
Caroline Temmermand, of Augusta, was one of roughly two dozen people at the Augusta Metro Chamber for a meeting with SR Plus.
She said her concern was, “That handicap people have the opportunity that they would pay the same, but get a little more time to get to the businesses that they want to frequent.”
Ashley Paulk, a downtown business owner, said “The building we’re in has 30-35 employees. Those employees need to park somewhere reasonably close. I’m not opposed to paying, but where will they be placed or displaced now in lieu of where they’re currently parking.”
SP Plus, the company the city hired to implement paid parking in downtown Augusta, held two meetings with the public ahead of major changes.
“I love the pay by phone, the mobile apps,” Temmermand said. “Those things are incredible. People can track what they’re spending. They can know when they’re running out on the meter.”
A spokesperson with the company told NewsChannel 6 there will be 60, solar powered pay stations capable of accepting both cash and credit cards. Once you snag a spot, you can pay by plate and yes, add money from your cell phone.
“I don’t like the fact that we’re looking at long term parking for employees. The idea is to allow people access to the businesses,” Temmermand said.
The city’s new paid parking district is planned from bridge to bridge and the areas bordered by Greene Street and Reynolds Street. The rates and times are Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., so anyone enjoying a late night or Sunday stroll downtown doesn’t have to feed the meter. But any other time, it will run you $1.50 an hour for a maximum two hour stay. It’s the same deal now for free. But what happens if you work there?
Paulk said, “$25 for some people is not a concern, but for different type of employees, it is.”
That’s a monthly fee for workers. And people who live downtown would pay $50 a year.
Along Ellis Street, parking would be free for up to three hours unless you have an employee or resident parking permit. SP Plus plans to recommend the city re-stripes for ADA and include a coupon or voucher system at the pay stations when needed.
“The times are changing and pay to park is a reality,” Paulk said.
SP Plus will be compiling the concerns and taking them back to the commission. We will continue to follow this story.