Paid parking being considered for downtown St. Joseph

NOW: Paid parking being considered for downtown St. Joseph

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. — The idea of paying to park downtown in St. Joseph is causing some debate over whether the revenue that would go back into the city could come at the cost of its local businesses. 

St. Joe’s Downtown Development Authority is looking for the solution to keep parking moving and they’ve been given the green light to do so by the city commission. 

They’ll now work on a proposal to develop a Parking Benefits District. 

The DDA was not available for an on-camera interview Friday, but city liaison Stephanie Scott-Sims told ABC57 a new parking strategy is in line with the city’s master plan adopted in 2020. 

Tourism organization St. Joe Today began surveying downtown businesses after the news, hoping to learn what the consensus is on the idea of kiosks that charge parkers $2 an hour across all of downtown. 

“We’re interested in their comments so we can send those over to the city, we sent it out yesterday and have already gotten 35 responses and every one has been a number of sentences explaining why they feel,” said Amy Zapal, Executive Director of St. Joe Today.

Zapal said so far, the majority of businesses are against paid parking.

The owner of Perennial Accents on State Street believes it ultimately penalizes local, year round customers.  

“A cup of coffee, something sweet, something for your kitchen, asking them to pay even $2 more to do that, the answer is going to be no,” said Kellye Wilson, owner of Perennial Accents. “It’s why so many businesses are closed in the winter, what keeps us going is our residents and this is placing a barrier.”

Everyone agreed, though, that parking could be more efficient in the city and there may be a compromise.

“We have two all-day parking lots on State Street that could be great to be metered parking all day,” said Wilson. 

“Paid parking as a driver of revenue is a thought behind it, but there are a lot of small towns that are dependent on residents as the backbone of every business,” said Zapal. 

The DDA said 80% percent of the revenue from paid parking would go back into downtown – things like maintenance, new art and upgraded signage. 

Residents can weigh in at the city commission’s next meeting on February 7th

 

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