City Council explores public parking changes
By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector
Tuesday, August 13, 2019
Quadrupling a fine, terminating the e-tag program and charging a late-night parking fee are some of the recommendations the Greenville City Council is exploring to improve parking in the downtown area.
City staff is planning two public input sessions to receive citizen feedback on proposed changes to city parking regulations. The dates are still being finalized.
The changes are being considered to increase business activity and improve convenience.
The council was presented the proposal at its Thursday workshop. Council members also received an update on plans to host a New Year’s Eve celebration at the Town Common.
“We know as time changes we move away from things people like,” said Corey Barrett, a former parking supervisor who is now a special event liaison with the city.
There are 1,294 parking spaces in the downtown area; 657 on-street spaces and 637 off-street spaces, he said. Appropriate parking management can increase the number of people served per parking space and existing spaces can be used more efficiently.
The recommendations Barrett presented came from a 2017 parking study.
The current parking fine needs to increase from $5 to $20, the study recommended. With the $5 citation, it’s cheaper to get a citation than pay $6 to park all day in the parking deck located at the intersection of Fourth and Cotanche streets, he said.
The usage of on- and off-street spaces need to be adjusted based on the supply and demand of on-street parking, Barrett said.
Parking on-street and in the deck currently costs 75 cents an hour. There is a two-hour maximum for on-street parking. All-day parking at the deck is $6.
For on-street parking, a rate of $1.75 per hour with the first hour being free and off-street parking of $1 per hour with the first hour being free is being recommended. It’s also recommended the city do away with the two-hour time restrictions and meter enforcement hours.
A flat rate of $15 be charged after 10 p.m. is being proposed. The flat rate would offset the cost of paying private security and parking enforcement after hours.
The rates could be changed for special events such as home football games.
A gate system could be installed in the parking deck to allow for automated payment. Currently, people must walk to a pay station and estimate the time they will be parked.
The city could also implement a Passport App to allow for payment from cellphone.
Barrett said along with improved parking for the public, he recommends developing an improved permitting process for employees of downtown businesses.
The study recommended terminating the e-tag program by Dec. 31 and creating a parking permit program for businesses and their employees.
The e-tag program was set up so business employees and people living downtown could use on-street parking in certain areas.
It’s also recommended that ride share zones — area for drop-off and pick-up for Uber, Lyft, taxicabs and ECU shuttle vans — be created along with a 15-minute loading zone for delivery drivers.
Councilman Brian Meyerhoeffer had questions about the cost of providing 24-hour parking enforcement. He asked if the city could contract with a towing company to monitor parking areas. Barrett said the city’s current policy is deploying towing services on a rotation basis.
New Year’s Eve
Assistant City Manager Ken Graves updated the council on plans to host Greenville’s first community New Year’s Eve celebration on the Town Common.
City staff is organizing the event with the Greenville Jaycees, Uptown Greenville, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce and Arts Council At Emerge.
Graves said staff began exploring the project after Mayor P.J. Connelly mentioned having such an event last year.
Entertainment will be provided by Greensboro-based The Dickens Band. There will be an adult beverage location and food vendors.
The sponsors are working with Hydra Cut, a Winterville company, to design a four-sided emerald that will be lowered from the top of the amphitheater stage at midnight to ring in the new year, Graves said. The type of material to be used is being finalized.