By Jesse Wood
After an outcry from merchants in Downtown Boone regarding one-hour time limits on parking meters on King, Depot and Howard streets, the Boone Town Council listened and extended on-street metered parking to two hours.
That was in mid June, and with two months since the change was made, the merchants seemed relatively pleased. Virginia Falck, downtown coordinator with the Town of Boone, said that she’s heard positive feedback from business owners and seasonal residents regarding the change to two hours.
A similar sentiment echoed when speaking with a few business owners on King Street on Wednesday afternoon.
“Thank goodness they did the two hours. They would have put everybody out of business on the street because literally people were going like this [looking at their wrist for the time],” Jill Reeves, owner of Appalachian Antiques. “Boone is supposed to be a relaxing experience.”
Not validating tickets and the predatory nature of McLaurin Parking, which the Town of Boone contracted to manage parking are still concerns of merchants. Even so, Doe Ridge Pottery owner and Downtown Boone Development Association (DBDA) member Bob Meier said that he has “heard a significant amount of less complaints than before.”
But, Meier added, that there still seems to be some confusion regarding extended parking. For whatever reason people just don’t know that they can park for a longer time at the two pay-station lots and on Queen Street.
Earlier this summer, the DBDA installed new banners directing motorists who want to park for an extended time toward pay stations at the Town Hall and Depot Street lots and the meters on Queen Street.
The two-hour time limit for on-street metered parking is on a trial period until the end of the year, at which time the DBDA, the Boone Town Council and town staff will review the time limits.
But most of the trial period experienced by merchants since June didn’t occur while school was in session. Appalachian State University students weren’t around to take up spots that are reserved for patrons.
Move-in days were last Thursday and Friday, so there has only been a week’s worth of time to gauge how this two-hour parking limit will work during the fall semester.
“It hasn’t been long but I’ve noticed that there still seems to be parking spaces available and we have not had any complaints from customers saying that there weren’t any spaces,” said of Anna Banana’s owner Anna Roseman, who added that “business is back on track” since the two-hour limit was instituted.Meier said hasn’t yet noticed how students are parking since school began but did acknowledge that it will likely take a few weeks for students to figure out a way to game the system.
Meier mentioned that students who only take classes two or three days a week can buy parking cheaper in downtown Boone for class than it would cost buy a parking pass.
“And it’s a lot more convenient than State Farm [where student parking exists],” Meier said.
Reta Jackson with McLaurin Parking noted that students have been parking downtown for classes during the first week of the fall semester.
“We do have some students in the metered spaces, Jackson said, “and pay station lots, they are occupying it too.”
Parking Meter Revenue
IPS Group was awarded a bid in the amount of $216,839 to install the new “smart” meters in Downtown Boone in the spring. They are also paid a monthly for meter software management.
In April, the Town of Boone collected $16,390 for its metered parking, but it paid $2,622 for parking meter management fees and credit card processing fees and $14,600 to McLaurin Parking Services – a loss of $832 for the month of May.
In May, the Town of Boone collected $29,121 for its metered parking, but it paid $2,575 for parking meter management fees and credit card processing fees and $14,600 to McLaurin Parking Services. The Town of Boone netted $11,645.
In June, the Town of Boone collected $27,751 for its metered parking, but it paid nearly $2,000 to IPS and nearly $14,600 to McLaurin. The Town of Boone netted $10,178 in June.
Since April, the Town of Boone has collected $73,262 for its metered parking and netted nearly $21,000. Much of this time doesn’t include pay stations, as those weren’t installed until later in the summer.
The revenue goes into the general fund. In the past, merchants mentioned they would like to see the profits from the metered parking go toward a parking deck in the future.
At Boone Town Council meeting in June, Ward said that town staff is looking at numerous options for parking decks within the Municipal Service District.
“We hope in the near future to bring additional information or applications to the planning department that you may be seeing on the horizon,” Ward said.
More Info on Parking Downtown
On-street parking is enforced in downtown Boone Monday – Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is $1 per hour for up to two hours. Once your time has expired you may return to the meter and pay for more time. Handicapped parking spaces will have no time limits.
Pay stations are located at the King and Depot streets parking lots. These two parking lots will provide multi-hour parking for visitors to downtown and will be $1 an hour. The Queen St. parking meters will remain $.50 per hour for up to three hours. Look for the big blue signs for extended parking areas.
- 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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