On February 7, 2019, we published a story on the two-hour parking limit when visiting downtown. According to Chief of Police Bob Hundley, “the two-hour parking was actually first shown in the city ordinances back in the 1970s. The ordinance changed in 2016 and the city took out the two-hour parking restriction from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. from Monday through Friday and 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. on Saturdays. This was in response to those individuals living in the downtown area and downtown evening events. The two-hour parking ordinance has been there since at least 1977.”
However, the law had not really been enforced until recently. You may have been asking yourself – why is it now being enforced? To understand this, you need to understand the why. Apparently many business people who work downtown are taking up parking spaces in front of their own business or their neighbor’s business, leaving little parking room for actual shoppers and visitors. The frustration of the situation led to a complaint to the city manager’s office requesting the parking limit law be enforced and thus a few tickets as of recent have been written. Let’s keep in mind we are lucky that downtown parking is free. This is a plus.
There are no parking meters and “no plans to have parking meters” according to Paris City Manager John Godwin. So what does a parking spot in downtown Paris cost? Cheri Bedford of the Paris Main Street Program conducted a study and if a customer parked downtown for 30 minutes and spent only $5, each parking space could generate $20,800 a year in gross sales.
Now do the math. If you free up these parking spaces being taken up by owners of downtown businesses or the people who work in those businesses, just think of the revenue that could come back to those very businesses and the city with real patrons. It is substantial and works hand-in-hand with a vibrant and thriving downtown everyone wants to see in Paris. It does seem as if downtown Paris is facing some of the same growing pains you see within any city that is updating and refurbishing.
When we spoke to Assistant City Manager for McKinney, Barry Shelton, he said, “we went through this exact thing as our city began to take off. While you can’t please everyone, the most important thing is to get people downtown shopping and dining and making sure parking is readily available as best you can.”
We should also mention other free alternative parking options close to the square can be taken advantage of; such as the parking lot behind Peoples Bank, the Methodist Church parking lot near the Splash Pad, the Farmer’s Market, the courthouse parking lot and the parking lot across from the former Perry’s Restaurant to name a few. In our original story we also posted a poll – How should parking downtown be handled? Options to vote on were to change to a three-hour parking limit, install parking meters or leave the limit at two hours.
The poll came back with 33 percent of voters stating they would like to see the city change the time limit to three hours.
So is the issue a time limit, parking meters, tickets, a convenient parking spot for business owners or is it thinking about the real value of a parking spot for people visiting Paris, real customers and what that return means to those local businesses and the city?
Tell us what you think. Is your downtown facing the same problem? Please post your comments in our thread.