Three months after Troy made its downtown parking free and unlimited, city leaders are considering options for the future of the program.
An outside consultant presented recommendations to the city’s streets and sidewalks committee Monday evening as local business owners and residents also gave input.
Many people who spoke with 2 NEWS said they believe the program is going well.
“I love the free parking,” said Matthew Watercutter, who works downtown. “I think it invites more people to come downtown, invites people to stay longer.”
“The free parking’s been great,” said Bryan Kemper, who also works downtown. “I’ve never had a problem coming downtown, and I use downtown parking at least six days a week.”
Some shop owners at the meeting said they believe the free parking program hasn’t been good for business. A few people told the committee that people are leaving cars in front of businesses all day and argued there’s not enough turnover.
“I have customers who came in…and dropped some items off,” a man from Genesis Graphics said during the meeting. “He parked in a resident’s driveway because there was no place to park on our street.”
After studying parking patterns for eight weeks, a consultant made several recommendations to the city for the long term. Those suggestions include setting some two- or four-hour parking limits in parts of downtown and creating a placard system in some parking lots.
While the streets and sidewalks committee did not show support for the placard idea, its members agreed some spaces may need time limits going forward.
“I know some businesses have had some reservations, and I think council is willing to work with those businesses to try to mitigate those reservations,” said Councilman William Lutz. “But in general, I think it has been a net positive.”
City staff and council will further consider which spaces need time limits before making any decisions, Lutz explained.
“If you talk to residents in this town, parking has been an issue for decades,” he said. “I hope with this, we can get it right, and we can get it right for a long period of time.”
The free parking program is set to end in March, Lutz said, but it could be extended as the city council works to make a final decision.