Local/State

Parking meters could pop up in Durham

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A proposal to add parking meters in downtown Durham has people talking.

The meters would be added to various areas downtown and on the popular Ninth Street.

The city council debated adding the meters to various areas downtown and on Ninth Street Thursday.

It is a touchy subject for businessowners downtown. Many of them have inundated city leaders with emails leading up to Thursday's city council work session.

"It's not very business friendly when you have security guards running people out of the area," Ninth Street Flowers owner Larry Wood said. "It creates a dynamic that I think can be detrimental."

As Durham continues to grow and new businesses set up shop, the parking is not keeping pace, according to a study. The six month study of Durham parking lots, specifically near Ninth Street, shows some are already at capacity.

Another concern is the costs of keeping up parking lots. The city currently pays $4.7 for maintenance of the lots and garages. The annual parking revenue falls short by about $2 million.

City leaders are considering several recommendations, including increasing downtown residential parking fees and adding parking meters. The city is also considering leasing a lot where customers on Ninth Street could park for free. They say the goal is to make Durham's parking system pay for itself. Even with new recommendations, it could take years for that to happen.

"To say you don't want to have paid parking on Ninth Street...but the city is entering into an agreement where it's paying to lease property for people to park in and even if we charge them, it's showing we're still not breaking even. I just have a problem with that," Durham Mayor Bill Bell said.

Supporters say parking is just a sign of the time.

"The lack of adequate parking is what I find to be a problem. I certainly don't mind paying a fair price," Ninth Street customer Mary Katherine Moore said.

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north carolina news, durham county news, local/state, tamara gibbs
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