Rachel Hartdegan, Campus Carrier Staff Writer
On May 20, the Rome Downtown Development Authority instituted a new parking program for downtown Rome in an attempt to increase parking turnover and revenue for local businesses.
This new program has been in the works for nine years and is part of a revitalization of downtown Rome overseen by the Rome Downtown Development Authority. The goal for these new parking strategies is not only to increase revenue and turnover but to also ensure pedestrian safety.
With the new parking plan, there is now a three-hour limit for on-street parking between 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. This limit applies to the whole day, not just the parking spot. Long-term parking is also offered in the parking decks on 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Avenues.
Along with the time limits there are also License Plate Readers (LPR) installed downtown to provide enforcement of this plan. LPRs provides parking services with a record to help ensure the parking plan is being followed.
“LPR technology increases time for enforcement and increases the enforcement,” Becky Smyth, parking services manager for downtown Rome, said.
The idea for paid parking came from a parking study done by the city of Rome in response to the increasing demand for parking downtown. This study determined the revenue of each parking spot on Broad Street. It was discovered that revenue would be increased with the implementation of short-term paid parking.
Smyth said that one question the city of Rome had when first creating this parking plan is how to ensure pedestrian safety and increase parking turnover. The only solution found was to implement paid parking.
After years of preparation, the new parking plan was implemented and received outcry from local businesses. After receiving complaints from businesses downtown, parking services changed the hours from a two-hour limit to a three-hour limit.
This new plan is accompanied by a reminder of proper parking etiquette for on-street parking, which is stressed for the safety of pedestrians. Pedestrian safety is a concern with street parking because people often park on the wrong side of the road. According to Smyth, the correct way to park is with the passenger door of the car facing the sidewalk.
Whether a car is parked incorrectly or parked past the allotted times, drivers will receive fines up to $200.
The installation of this new parking plan is done to increase safety and business for downtown Rome.