Parking changes in BG coming soon

Parking changes in BG coming soon

BOWLING GREEN, OH (WTOL) - Parking in downtown Bowling Green is slated to change, and it could cost you two times as much, or maybe nothing at all.

The city is looking at several different options for how they can address a growing need.

While the cost has remained the same to park in downtown Bowling Green for you, for the city it's increasing.

City Leaders are looking to address a $25,046 deficient in 2017 regarding their parking expenses.

They have more than 600 parking spaces within the Special Improvement District and some of the biggest expenses are parking enforcement personnel, lot maintenance, infrastructure (meters or kiosks), equipment, real estate taxes, and associated fees and services like credit cards.

In 2017 the total revenue from parking was $224,388 and the expenses were $249,434.

"Somehow the costs have to be covered so we want to do that in a fair way," said Bruce Jeffers, Bowling Green City Council. "We want to do it in a way that doesn't inhibit business activity. Probably the simplest way is to increase the fee and keep the same type of structure, but that may not be the best way to go."

There are three proposals to cover the costs.

The first option is to increase the revenue. City Council has an ordinance that is looking to double the parking rate from 25 cents to 50 cents per hour.

Some feel it's about time, while business owners fear it will hurt their traffic.

"It does scare me a little bit," said Kati Thompson, owner of Eden Fashion Boutique. "I just think it's one more layer, another roadblock that might be prohibitive."

"I actually think it's about time that we raise parking fees," explained Holly Myers, a BG resident. "I think they are very reasonable. I work on campus and campus parking fees are much, much higher.  I just think 25 cents an hour is just, I mean we're in 2018 so it's very modest."

A second option would be to eliminate or reduce parking costs and with it, some of the expenses for parking like enforcement and meters.

"I don't have any reason not to do that," said Myers. "I'm concerned about how we are going to pay for maintaining the parking."

Under this option, the city could create premium rate parking in some areas and make other lots free, but would still have to fund maintenance for parking.

Another idea to reduce or eliminate costs would be for the city to outsource their parking operations, or even sell property for development or parking operations.

The third option presented to the finance committee was to share the costs for parking between either citizens or downtown property owners.

A few business owners addressed the council saying they prefer this option and would gladly pay a fee to make parking free for their customers.

"I don't want people to just come shop at my store," said Thompson. "I want them to come to Eden and then I also want them to go next door to Coyote Beads and then go have coffee and then maybe you know have lunch or whatever. I would love for people to be able to come and experience all of our downtown."

Thompson said that she has already lost some business because of the parking situation and doesn't want her customers to have to choose.

She also owns a business in downtown Sylvania and said that they do not pay for parking or have a time limit.

She believes this allows customers to stay, relax and explore, something she hopes for BG too.

"If we want to promote small business, if we want to support shopping local we need to just make sure we're considering all the options to make it feasible for people," said Thompson.

Councilman Jeffers said that parking decisions in BG can be more difficult because of the college population, but that they want to take everything into consideration before making a final decision.

He said that they must look at their long-range development goals while figuring out their parking plan.

All three options will be discussed among Bowling Green city council members. They could vote on the issue at their next meeting on September 4 or table it for further discussion in the future.

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