City Cuts Parking Rates to Accommodate Baseball Games

Parking spots are gobbled up quickly when the minor league Woodpeckers play in Fayetteville, N.C. So the city is going to drop the rates in the parking spots it owns from $10 to $5 during home games.

by John Henderson, The Fayetteville Observer / May 14, 2019

(TNS) — Parking fees in city-owned lots in Fayetteville, N.C., during Fayetteville Woodpeckers games will be reduced to $5 under a plan endorsed by the City Council on Monday night.

The council voted to shift gears in its parking plan for the minor league baseball games after hearing complaints from downtown business owners and employees about the $10 parking fee the city has been charging for people to park in its lots and the Franklin Street Parking Garage.

Employees in some restaurants and bars say the parking fee has been a financial burden, and businesses say the fee has been chasing away customers.

Daniel Fair, owner of Pierro's Italian Bisto, said there are at least 500 employees in the service industry in the downtown area who need a place to park cheaper than $10.

"We are ecstatic to have the baseball stadium," he said. "There is no question about it. With that being said, there are a lot of unique challenges that have come forth. I have personally witnessed them, along with my customers, my employees."

Fair said the lots where the city is charging $10 to park are often not half full, especially during weekday games.

"If we reduce the amount of paid parking to a smaller epicenter," he said, "I believe we'll handle a lot of those problems."

Fair said if all of the 500 downtown employees had to pay the $10 parking fee during the 70 home games that adds up to $350,000 annually of money being spent by people making minimum to moderate incomes.

He recommended a particular area downtown for employee parking, and perhaps a shuttle to the free parking lot by the courthouse, as some employees don't want to walk too late at night to that lot because of security concerns. He said the courthouse also should have a police presence.

"Safety is definitely a concern," Fair said. "There are a lot of homeless people. Sometimes people get accosted. We want to make sure people feel safe — customers and employees."

He also urged the city to open Hay Street, which police have been closing in front of the stadium during games, to allow free traffic flow pass businesses.

Brittany Campbell, owner of Sunshine Beauty and Bliss, a beauty studio on Donaldson Street, said the $10 fee has been hurting small businesses as customers have shied away from them in the downtown area during games.

She said the small shops downtown consist of local entrepreneurs.

"We are the home of your favorite stylists, your favorite place to go to get a drink, your custom designed t-shirts, your local photographers and overall one-of-a-kind experience," Campbell said. "With the recent parking situation, customers have taken their money to other areas, minimizing the reason the baseball stadium was brought to the Cool Spring District in the first place — to help generate income and revenue in the area."

The council was unanimous in its support for reducing the parking fee from $10 to $5.

Councilman Bill Crisp said Fayetteville is a working-class town and should not be charging $10 for a family to park for games.

"The idea is to encourage citizens to come to the games, to come downtown to special events," he said. "When you've got to spend $10 to park, and you take two kids into the ballpark, and you buy them each a hot dog and something to drink, that's a lot of money out of hand."

Council approved a resolution giving Doug Hewett, the city manager, authority to implement a revised parking plan, which also calls for coming forth with a solution for turnover parking spaces in the Hay Street and other downtown streets in front of restaurants and shops.

Those spaces are currently free for two or three hours during the day until 5 p.m., depending on the street. But people who have been getting to Woodpeckers games early have been parking in the spaces that are free after 5 p.m., which blocks the spot to someone who may want to patronize the business but not go to the game.

At the dinner meeting, council discussed possibly enforcing the two-hour parking limit on the downtown parking spaces after 5 p.m., which could mean people who come back from a Woodpeckers game might find a ticket on their window. Council members talked about possibly giving warning tickets at first so people going to the games know there is a time limit on the on-street spaces.

During the regular meeting, councilman Jim Arp said the city might install digital parking meter equipment that would require people to move their cars every couple of hours in the on-street spaces. He said people attending games need to park somewhere else other than those on-street spaces in front of businesses during the games.

"That way it frees up their spaces for vendors and businesses downtown, where people rotate through on a limited basis, maybe a two-hour rotation where they'd have to move their car," he said.

©2019 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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