ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A dispute over parking meters has St. Paul business owners and residents ready to take on City Hall.
Tuesday night, members of Mayor Chris Coleman’s staff are meeting with people who are strongly opposed to a plan to install parking meters along Grand Avenue. It’s a shopping district with a steady stream of customers, and there is concern meters will change that.
“This is a neighborhood community. The people here are opposed to it,” Gary Huffman said.
Huffman is the owner of the Grand Ole Creamery, and he’s worried that parking meters outside his shop will drive customers away.
“Can you imagine having to pay $2 in a parking meter to come in to buy a $4 to $5 ice cream cone? It doesn’t make sense. They will go to other competitive places that don’t have parking meters,” Huffman said.
Nancy Homans is Mayor Chris Coleman’s policy director.
“There is a lot of emotion always over parking,” Homans said.
She says adding parking meters to a 10-block section of Grand Avenue will generate about $400,000 in additional revenue each year. Downtown St. Paul is also slated to get more parking meters, bringing the total new revenue to about $1 million.
“The mayor was putting together his budget. He wanted to minimize the increase the amount of the property tax increase. He wanted to keep the levy increase under two percent so we are looking at other revenue sources,” Homans said.
The Grand Avenue Business Association made posters to show their opposition to the plan.
“It might not be the dollar amount. It’s the headache. Finding the parking podium, if the podium works finding the space number. For a 15-minute errand, no one is going to do it,” Joe Perrone with the Grand Avenue Business Association said.
The group is determined to get the city to change its mind.
“I don’t know how much good it will do, if the message will get back, but there’s strength in numbers,” Perrone said.
The proposed parking rate is $2 an hour during the day and $1 an hour during the evening hours, up until 10 p.m. Tuesday’s public meeting is at 7 p.m. at the Linwood Community Center.
The St. Paul public works director and the mayor’s policy director will be there. The city council is expected to vote on the parking meter issue sometime in October.
Get more information at the Grand Avenue Business Association website.