Parking Commission adds metered spaces to revenue model

Published 8:00 am Saturday, May 4, 2019

The city’s Board of Aldermen will soon decide the Downtown Square’s future in terms of paid and free parking. On Friday, the area that could remain free this fall got smaller. During the Downtown Parking Commission’s regular meeting, additional metered parking spaces were recommended to the Board. 

Several areas of on-street parking surrounding the Square could become metered spots if the Board approves the recommended revenue model which originally planned for the lot to remain free. These spaces would cost .75 an hour, not $1.25 an hour like the premium parking spots in the center of the Square. 

“The idea here is that basically these spots are off of the main core of the Square and they act more like off-street lots than they do core on-street parking,” Tom Sharpe said during the meeting. “So, it would make sense not to charge $1.25 an hour for those but to charge 75 cents.” 

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The biggest area affected with the proposed change is the lot in front of the current Department of Human Services building on 9th Street. The commission was unaware the lot was owned by the city and metered parking could be an option 

Other areas include the row of free parking spaces behind First National Bank adjacent to the Chancery Court building as well as the spots on the same road between North 13th and North 14th Streets. South 10th Street and Tyler Avenue surrounding Oxford University Methodist Church could also see metered spots added. South 11th Street will also lose free spots. 

The biggest concern during the discussion was removing spots from around the church without informing or discussing the matter further with church officials.  

Another important aspect about this is way back when we first started talking about the possibility of doing this, there was some concern about whether this would be a hardship for the churches,” Sharpe said. “In the mean time OU Methodist has built its own lot and I would argue that with all the other parking around there being charged for and we don’t have meters here, they would be taken up by students parking there and staying there all day for free.” 

Earlier this year, First Baptist Church had their request approved to install gated entrances to their lots on Van Buren Avenue behind Rebel Bookstore and adjacent to the church building. The request was an effort to combat people taking advantage of the free parking and taking up spaces during church services and other events.