Paid parking in downtown Augusta?

Wednesday, January 16, 2018
(News 12 at 6 o'clock)

AUGUST, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT)--The city approved a task force to come up with a plan for paid parking downtown. While it seems to be in full swing, it's not a done deal by a long-shot.

If you had a quarter for every time it came up, you'd probably have enough to pay a meter.

"You had to have a pocket of full quarters if you wanted to be there for a little while."

Tommy Moreland knows a thing or two about heavy pockets headed to the meter. Of the many places he called home, Pittsburgh
was one of them. They paid to park. Then he came to Augusta about a year ago.

"One year ago, yesterday," He laughed. But who's counting?

He is, however counting the very few empty parking spaces across Broad Street. It's too hard to find a spot so he doesn't drive, doesn't park, only rides his bike.

Moreland says, "I think that's the best way to get around here."

Between the Godfather of Soul and busy store fronts, come Summer 2019, parking fees may lurk near curbs.

"I mean paid parking," John Seaton continued," was one of the reasons retail stores moved out of Broad Street in the first place."

The plan would mean parking is between $1.00 to $1.25 per hour, 8 a.m to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Parking would be free on Sundays and holidays but John Seaton doesn't think this would be a good thing for his family-run bridal shop business.

He recalled years ago when paid parking was introduced."They went to Regency Mall and Augusta Mall, all the big stores left." He says having to pay to park pushed people out.

If you scan the current parking situation from Reynolds to Greene, you'll find properties acting as make-shift parking lots like the one at the
vacant Wells Fargo.

So the city's task force says it's driving the parking plan in the right direction with meters and paid spaces. While others urge the city
to just park the plan.

Augusta commissioners will review the plan on Jan 29th in a committee meeting. If it passes then, it will still need to be discussed in a full commission meeting. But even after that, the plan would not immediately go into effect. The city would need to hire a private company to enforce the paid parking. Companies that are interested in enforcing the paid parking will have to place bids to work for the city. The city will choose the best and/or lowest bidder.

Augusta will pay the private company a fee to enforce the rules but when it comes to fines and parking tickets, drivers will pay Augusta. That money is supposed to go towards improvements on Broad and Ellis Street, the task force says.

Chris Booker is on the task force the city created back in summer 2018 to study paid parking. Booker told News 12, the plan they will take back to commissioners on Jan 29th includes an estimated deadline of July for paid parking.