After an uproar from a number of businesses and other organizations who have operations in downtown Rochester, the city is changing a plan that increased the time that metered parking was in effect.
In an effort to balance the new city budget, which began in July, the hours for weekday parking at the kiosks and meters was extended from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
That move caught a number of business, arts and other organizations off guard, with some of them saying there should have been more discussion with those affected before that decision was made. It also spurred a petition on change.org opposed to the plan, with more than 2,500 people signing it. The Little Theatre, which is operated by WXXI, was among the organizations that endorsed that petition.
On Tuesday, Mayor Lovely Warren noted the city faces a significant budget gap of $47.6 million and looked at a number of strategies. She says after hearing from citizens and working with downtown stakeholders and the business community, officials have come up with a compromise.
That agreement will rescind the lengthening of the metered parking, so it goes back to 6 p.m. It also means that the daytime hourly parking rate at the meters will increase by 50 cents, from $1.50 to $2. Warren says the change will allow the city to realize the revenue it needed. It was earlier estimated the change in parking hours would raise about $214,000.
Heidi Zimmer-Meyer heads up the Rochester Downtown Development Corporation and she says this is a good compromise.
“This isn’t a question of, we don’t want to pay for parking, that’s not realistic in any city in the country, so the question is, how should the parking fee system be set up, and I think this change is really smart and I think it’s going to work much better for all of the businesses involved," Zimmer-Meyer told WXXI News.
Bleu Cease, the executive director of the Rochester Contemporary Art Center on East Avenue, also says the parking change is a good compromise.
“For the last ‘X’ number of years, 15, 20 years, the city has been working so hard to bring people back downtown during that period of time and this change would have been really disruptive to all the momentum that’s been building downtown.”
Cease also praised city officials for listening to the public and making adjustments to the plan.
The new parking rules will take effect if the budget amendment is approved at the August 21 City Council meeting. In the interim, the extended parking hours that had changed to 8 p.m. will not be enforced.