GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Parking in Grand Rapids is always an issue, but now it is about to come to the forefront again as the city is in the beginning stages of a plan that could see the hours for parking meter use expand.
Josh Naramore, the city’s director of parking services, says the initial plan calls for the parking meters downtown to extend the hours that used to end at 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The biggest change would come on weekends, when the meters will be in use 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and from noon to 8 p.m. on Sundays.
The city says the reason for the change is not to make more money, as the increased revenue will be offset by increased need for enforcement.
“Customers are used to seeing that as part of just the nature of we’re a bigger city, I think a lot people who are here forget that sometimes, but a city of 200,000 people and it continues to grow,” Naramore said.
As part of their annual review, the city’s parking services department decided to bring this issue forward.
“Parking is extremely personal, and so I’ve always said there’s never a good time to talk about it, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to have an honest dialogue about what’s working and what’s not working,” Naramore said.
He says it is not designed to make the city more money.
“It does bring in additional revenue, but there are additional costs with that because there’s additional staffing, people that are doing enforcement and things like that,” Naramore said. Parking is very different than a lot of other city services, we use the rates to manage the demand for the public space.”
He says the rationale is to keep parkers moving.
“We’re seeing that a lot of on-street parking is always occupied, it’s always full and that has been seen to be a deterrent to retail and a lot of other businesses,” Naramor said.
Businesses are looking at how to deal with the costs, including New Holland Brewing on Bridge Street NW, which provides customers with a map of where to park and $2 off their bill to offset the parking costs.
“Once again, it kind of makes a night out with the family or friends or whatever a little more expensive, you got to manage it a little bit more and I think it keeps people from diving into the experience of being downtown,” said New Holland general manager Eli Harper. “I think inadvertently there’s gonna be a lot of people getting tickets because they assume the parking is still the way that it used to be.”
For those who feed the meters, this is probably not going to be a popular idea even if it does help keep parking open.
“It might keep a lot of parking open, if you have to pay for it like that,” said Randy Hansen who parks on Monroe Center. “I would think that you’d get more people downtown if they didn’t have to worry about parking. Parking’s always an issue in Grand Rapids.”
Naramore points out that this is only a very initial proposal that will go through changes before it makes its way to the city commission and the earliest these changes would take effect would be next spring.
The parking committee will be meeting at 8 a.m. on Dec. 13 at 300 Monroe Ave. NW and residents can leave comments online.