New paid parking meters in effect in downtown Sarasota

New paid parking meters in effect in Downtown Sarasota

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - You may have already seen a few of them up around parts of downtown Sarasota - parking meters.

The city of Sarasota will implement a new paid parking program and it’s set to launch as soon as next month. Parking division manager for the city of Sarasota Mark Lyons says he’s confident about launching this new system downtown. One reason being the successful system they have out on St. Armands.

“We think what it will do is improve accessibility and turnover in those areas which actually puts more footsteps on the sidewalks and makes it easier for those people who need that close accessibility to find parking spaces,” said Lyons.

Parking rates are $1.50 an hour with 10 minutes free after you enter your license plate information. Lyons said he believes the city is being smart with the rollout.

“As we activate in certain areas, we want the equipment to function the way we anticipate. So we will activate our phase 1 area first. Within a couple days if we feel comfortable with it, we will move down through Main Street and Palm.”

Owner of Art to Walk On, Inc. Eileen Hampshire welcomes the new system. “So this is going to, in my view, free up places so if people want to shop on Palm, they’ll have that opportunity. Anywhere they’ve put in paid parking worldwide, sales tax revenues have increased,” said Hampshire.

But many merchants feel the public is not ready to accept paid parking. “We do lose clients because they have to pay to park even though we encourage them to park in the garage,” said James Reese, owner of Forty-One Salon on Palm.

And although the city is planning some outreach to educate businesses and visitors, some say it may still cause a few problems. "I know some of this will be going out of this face generational because of the lack of technological knowledge that the older generation has,” explained Darlene Kunkel.

Visitors will also be able to pay by using the city’s parkmobile app. The new paid parking program won’t take effect until after the 4th of July holiday.

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