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Lexington council hears concerns about new parking meter rates and hours

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Stu Johnson
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Newly implemented parking meter rates and hours in downtown Lexington created a stir at City Hall Tuesday. Council members heard from several business owners about the move to extend nighttime metering to 9:00 during the week and adding Saturday hours. Restaurant Owner Ouita Michel says downtown businesses compete with retailers outside New Circle Road.

“What would the message to Lexington be if the City Council said street parking in downtown is free. There is no charge for street parking in our downtown. That’s how much we want you to be down here. That’s what Fayette Mall says. That’s what the Summit says. That’s what Hamburg says,” said Michel.

Another one of those appealing to the Council for changes was Martine’s Pastries Owner Jim Holzman. He said the higher rates and longer metering hours downtown could put pressure on surrounding neighborhoods with additional parking.

Lexington Parking Authority Director Gary Means says the city-UK land-street swap meant a parking meter loss of $300,000. He told Council the authority is planning for a new smart camera security system adding street parking revenues help with structural upkeep of garages. Means said there are ongoing costs and one-time expenses.

“Let’s say they come up with the 500 thousand or 600 thousand to help us with the camera. And they can say we helped with safety, but then with the ongoing costs, we’re still not going to meet our needs in revenue, if we don’t make some changes like we’ve done. You know, we believe there is somewhere in the middle that some of that can be worked out,” said Means.

Means said any modification in rates or hours would be a Parking Authority Board decision. A six-week warning period is scheduled to end in two weeks when fines are scheduled to kick in.

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Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 30 years.
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