By Jesse Wood
The Downtown Boone Development Association (DBDA) will recommend that the Boone Town Council extend the one-hour time limit on-street parking meters to two hours for a six-month trial period from July through the end of the year, according to Virginia Falck, downtown coordinator for the Town of Boone.
After receiving complaints from downtown merchants and analyzing a survey, where 96 percent of more than 1,000 respondents favored two-hour limits as opposed to one hour, the DBDA on Monday decided that the six-month, two-hour limit trial period was warranted.
The DBDA heard from several merchants at Monday’s meeting talk about how the one-hour limit impacts business because patrons, worrying about exceeding the one-hour limit, quit shopping to feed the meter or leave all together.
The Boone Town Council will discuss the proposal at its upcoming June meeting.
After the first month of meters in operation, High Country Press interviewed about 10 merchants with most of them favoring some tweaks to the system, including bringing back validation stickers and extending the one-hour time limit on the meters.
“It’s making people not to want to come to downtown much. Even dining alone, it’s tough enough to eat lunch in under an hour. [I would like to see] at least two hours or extending validation stickers across the board for our community downtown, said Elizabeth Hempfling, owner of The Wedding Resource Center, in May.
Of course, the reason one-hour, on-street parking existed in downtown before the meters and why one-hour parking was instituted with the meters is because of the college students that take up the spaces to go to class.
“If we make it more than an hour, then the college students will use it more and we are right back where we started,” Bob Meier, owner of Doe Ridge Pottery and a member of the DBDA, said in May.
On Wednesday, Meier held the same position. He said that he wasn’t a big fan of the two-hour proposal and thinks that college students will be abuse the time limit once school starts back up in the fall, taking away parking spaces reserved for patrons of downtown businesses.
“I think we need to give the process more time before we start tinkering with it. On the other hand, everyone seems to be so unhappy. Discount part of that because a lot of people would be unhappy with any change no matter what. You could pave the streets in gold and give everybody money and they’d still be unhappy for some reason, just on general principle,” Meier said.
“But,” Meier added, “We’ve got nothing to lose. The nice thing about the new meters is they are easy to program and we can try that out.”
Falck said that the DBDA also approved new banners to replace current parking banners that will direct motorists to extended-time parking spaces on Queen Street and at the Depot and Town Hall lots.
The Town of Boone has website devoted to educating the public on the meter program. The website features frequently asked questions, survey, video and explanation of how the meters, which accept both coins and debit/credit cards, work.
Here is “pertinent” information from the Downtown Boone Development Association on the metered-parking program:
- On-street parking on King, Depot, and Howard streets will be $1 per hour Monday – Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- One hour parking will remain in effect Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and two hour parking will remain in effect on Saturdays 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- The Queen Street meters will remain $.50 per hour up for up to three hours Monday – Saturday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- There is no parking enforcement on Sundays.
- The new smart meters will accept coins, credit and debit cards.
- Visitors may go back and feed the smart meter before or as their time expires, and they will not
- be required to move their vehicle to a new parking space.
- Parking validations will no longer be accepted.
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