The village board voted last week to institute paid parking in the downtown business district, but not before responding to resident and business community concerns by agreeing to a plan that would provide two hours of free parking to permit holders.
The parking permits would be available to anyone for a fee of $25 annually and would provide up to two hours of free parking each time a motorist parks within the paid parking area.
“I’ve always felt the premise was not seeking revenue from ourselves,” Mayor Jeff Katz said following the meeting. “I really prefer a permit as a nod to local people.”
Katz said the changes in the law were based on comments they heard before and during the public hearing held last Thursday.
“I think they [the changes] made for a better law,” he said.
During the public hearing, the board heard numerous concerns about the potential impact of paid parking on Main and Pioneer streets.
“If you really feel it is necessary, I hope you’ll offer a permit we can buy or more 15-minute spaces,” said lawyer David Clinton, who added that if the village needed additional revenue, he would not be opposed to a tax increase.
Realtor Patti Ashley, whose office is on lower Pioneer Street, said paid parking would be a “disaster” for business people there.
Margaret McGown stated she is against paid parking. McGown said she tries to do business in the village, but if paid parking comes to the business district, her support will go elsewhere. Every resident, she said, should get a free parking pass.
Former Mayor Wendell Tripp, a long-time observer of local politics, questioned if paid parking will relieve the financial burden on residents.
“I am just wondering if the income derived is significant enough to make a difference,” he said.