Find another 50 cents if you’re parking on Main Street |

Find another 50 cents if you’re parking on Main Street

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

The Park City Council on Thursday night agreed to increase the charge for parking on Main Street, the first increase in the cost of parking since meters were installed more than a decade ago.

The increase, from $1 per hour to $1.50 per hour, was tied to a wider agreement between City Hall and the organizers of the Park Silly Sunday Market for a long-term deal to continue to stage the event on Main Street. The City Council upped the charge on a 4-1 vote, with City Councilwoman Candy Erickson casting the dissenting vote.

The city forecasts that the price increase will bring in an additional $160,000 in parking fees. The additional money will then be split between the Silly Market, the Main Street Business Alliance and City Hall itself.

Brian Andersen, who manages City Hall’s parking operations, said he anticipates the parking meters will be programmed with the new price by the end of March. Until then, the price will remain $1 per hour.

Parking on Main Street has cost $1 for an hour since the meters were installed in 1998 following a bitter dispute between City Hall and Main Street merchants who were fearful customers would abandon the street rather than pay to park.

The price charged to people who use hang tags to pay to park on Main Street — approximately 80 cents per hour — will not change. The hang tags, though, cost $50, with no parking time included in the initial price. Andersen said he plans to return for another discussion with the City Council about the hang tags.

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"The $1.50 parking is overdue," City Councilman Alex Butwinski said, adding there is lots of free parking close to Main Street and the additional 50 cents per hour will not discourage people from going to the street.

City Councilwoman Liza Simpson also contended that "there’s tons of free parking" close to Main Street. She recalled the earlier decision to return Swede Alley and the China Bridge garage to free-parking zones.

Reaction from Main Street has generally been in opposition to the 50 cent increase. But the idea of raising the rate did not garner the outrage that enveloped the street when paid-parking system was put in place in 1998.

A majority of Main Street businesses responding to a poll last weekend indicated they opposed a City Hall proposal to increase the paid-parking charges on the street, the leader of the merchants association said midweek.

Mary Black, who is the president of the Historic Main Street Business Alliance, said 61.8 percent of the businesses that took part in the poll, which was not scientific, opposed the increase.

Black said the businesses that supported the increase in parking fees said the extra money could be used to fund free-parking programs during less busy times of the year, pay for holiday promotions and support the Silly Market.

Seventy-one businesses responded to the survey, with Black saying a variety of industries from up and down Main Street and a section of Park Avenue submitted answers.