LYNCHBURG, Va. - To pay or not to pay: That is the conversation Lynchburg city officials are having with community members and business owners.
The idea of paying to park in certain downtown lots has people in the Hill City split.
The city wants to consider "Pay to Park" in five different parking lots in downtown:
Lot D, the depot lot, located next to Depot Grill
Lot L, the canal lot, located between Amazement Square and the Skate Park
Lot M, the Riverfront Park lot, the large parking lot located behind The Water Dog
Lot N, mosaic Lot, located across from Amazement Square
Lot O, the Jefferson Street lot, located next to Bikes Unlimited
One of the popular lots is the Riverfront Park lot. City leaders said it's always full.
During a meeting on Thursday evening the city shared its parking proposal with community members. THe city is proposing hourly rates starting at 25 cents for the first hour, $1 after an hour and $5 for the whole day.
The city said there could be monthly parking permits per person. The rate for businesses would be $40, and people who live downtown could pay $25 for the first permit and $50 for a second permit.
The city's Parking Management Department said that since the downtown revitalization began, more businesses have been coming in. The department has seen more traffic, but not enough parking available, and that's because some spots are being taken up by people who work at the nearby businesses.
Some business owners said the issue is about more than just paying to park. It's also about the quality of the parking lots.
"They're not really safe. They're not well-lit. They're not ADA-compliant. In fact, most of them can't even have snow removed from them. So, to then turn around and charge for this service, this amenity, seems a little ridiculous," Dave Poole, owner of Depot Grill, said.
"It's the evolution of what we're doing in our downtown. As we continue to grow and prosper and be the place that everybody wants to be and come to, we've got to provide parking spaces for those folks," said Dave Malewitz, parking manager for Lynchburg.
No decision was made at the meeting on Thursday night. What was discussed will be brought before board of the Lynchburg Parking Authority in June. The ultimate decision will up to the City Council.
City leaders also said they have no plans to creating additional parking lots.
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