Parking authority studied

Parking authority studied

March 4th, 2011 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

DISCOUNT LOTS

Four downtown parking sites are included in a new effort aimed at spurring hospitality, retail and restaurant workers to use discounted designated lots or garages rather than on-street spaces. The locations and monthly prices are:

• CARTA north garage roof at Broad and Third streets - $20

• CARTA North Shore garage off Frazier Avenue - $15

• Riverfront Parkway lots near Power Alley - $20

• Unum lot at Fourth and Cherry streets - $15

City and downtown officials are mulling creation of a parking authority, or giving CARTA similar powers, as they craft a long-term plan to ease perceived space shortages at key times and sites.

Earlier this week, they began offering discounted monthly parking prices at some downtown lots and garages to hospitality, restaurant and retail workers who now may be feeding parking meters.

The aim, according to officials, is to free up on-street parking for others, including potential customers and patrons.

Tom Dugan, CARTA's executive director, said Wednesday that officials may go before the City Council in 60 to 90 days with proposals to ease downtown's parking problems.

He said attorney Allen McCallie is reviewing the city code to determine what measures might be implemented.

Last year, CARTA joined with downtown redevelopment group River City Co. and city officials to help solve downtown's parking predicament.

Business people, local residents and others long have complained about a perceived shortage of parking spaces in the central city.

Tom Fransescon, president of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's Downtown Council, termed parking "a big, big issue" for its members.

He said when the council surveys members, parking is often at the top of the list of concerns.

Gary Means, who heads a parking authority in Lexington, Ky., told the Chamber group there had been a lack of focus on the issue in that city before his group was set up in 2008.

Since that time, the authority has crafted a number of initiatives to improve central city parking including a website, an amnesty program for offenders and technology innovations, he said.

Means said, for example, Lexington offers people the option of paying for a meter using a cell phone when they park. Also, he said, if people are delayed getting back to their vehicles, they can add time via the cell phone from another location.