Features

BEAT THE METER?

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By Richard Davis

TFW Staff Writer


Pay parking.

Does it make Fayetteville entertainment district patrons, business owners and Dickson Street employees want to smash the system? Or are people willing to pony up the dough, metaphorically grabbing a hammer with their money and starting on building that parking garage?

Time and revenue numbers will tell.

The only certain thing at this point is that the issue is on everyone’s minds — from city employees to bartenders to pub crawlers

Ron Carroll, a parking supervisor for the city, was one employee surveying the scene in the lot across from Walton Arts Center on Tuesday evening and trying to make sure patrons understood the process. He said people were mostly responding well that day, although a few people had cussed at city workers.

Some vehicles would pull into the parking lot, see the arm bars and immediately start backing out rather than pay, Carroll said. Others, he said, expressed surprise at how low the cost is — generally 50 cents to a $1 an hour depending on time and day — and wondered what the fuss is about.

The College Students

Two college students, Cami Fergus and Anna Bever, used one of the pay stations on Dickson Street near Kosmos Greekafe but clearly weren’t happy about it.

“I think it’s a little ridiculous that anywhere you park you have to pay in Fayetteville,” Fergus said, and Bever agreed with the sentiment.

When asked if they would frequent the entertainment district less, Bever said “Probably not, I’m just afraid I’m going to forget to pay.”

Neither have been towed or ticketed previously, but it’s a worry now.

“It’s definitely going to be more of a concern this year. I make some other ways of transportation, might do a little more walking,” Bever said.

The Bartender

Chris Hartsell, a bartender at Buster Belly’s, said business was pretty standard Tuesday night. But said everyone parking is on the tip of everyone’s tongue.

“I’ve got some definite reservations. I’ve heard a lot of concerns,” Hartsell said. “I don’t think we’ll have any real problems with it affecting business on the weekends, but I have a lot of worries about walk in traffic during the week.

“I appreciate the idea we’re going to get our money where we can as a city, take advantage of our big draw, which is mostly the hospitality downtown. But the paid parking, specifically the ambiguity this week, is not the most hospitable thing we could be putting forth.”

Hartsell, often better known by his nickname, “Kung Fu,” said many still have questions.

“There’s still a lot of confusion. People don’t know what they’re supposed to pay, when — especially the meters on the side.”

And employees are buzzing the most about the situation.

“I think the biggest concern of most the people I’ve talked to is, among the people that actually work here, the notion of working an hour or more of any shift essentially for the city is a little disconcerting,” Hartsell said.

The Delivery Driver

Shane Armfield is not happy. The Jimmy John’s delivery driver expressed deep reservations on Tuesday.

“In my honest opinion, it’s kind of hurting the little man,” Armfield said. “I’m only making $7.25 an hour plus tips. I’m supposed to park my car here or risk getting it towed. Not what is that tow charge — a $100, a a $150 — plus the possibility of the loss of my job?”

And he wondered about the logistics of managing his deliveries.

“OK on a busy Friday night I’m going to be going in and out of the shop what, say every 15-30 minutes we can roughly say? And that’s on a good night. So what’s it going to charge me to run in and out and continuously drop money in there? Because I haven’t looked. I’m afraid to look. I don’t want to look because I’m going to get even more upset,” Armfield said.

He hopes the city will go further than just the discounted parking promised for entertainment district workers.

“At least put in an employee parking lot or give us a tag that’s for all the employees who work on Dickson.”

4 Comments

Barbara August 20, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Pay parking is going to be hard to get accustomed to, but I think it will happen, and has to happen, frankly. If you go to Little Rock and visit the River District, or go to many areas of Tulsa’s or Dallas’ entertainment areas, you have to pay to park. It is a reality. The hardest part for me is going to be remembering to have change or cash–

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HL August 21, 2010 at 12:59 pm

As a lifetime Fayetteville resident as well as a Dickson employee, I must say, I have a major problem with the downtown pay parking. Yes, they have pay parking in Little Rock, Tulsa & Dallas, but this is FAYETTEVILLE (population 70K). We are a small town, even compared to Tulsa (population 400K) and especially Dallas (population 1.3 million). This policy without a doubt effects the little man – waiters, waitresses, bartenders, etc. Even after the vouchers & discounts, they are still ending up paying for parking out of pocket. I love Fayetteville more than anywhere in the world. I’ve always been very proud to live here and have seen eye to eye with the city council for the most part, but this whole ordeal is absolutely ridiculous! It really hurts my heart.

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skip October 14, 2010 at 1:22 pm

My issue with pay parking in Fayetteville is not the expense, but how it is administered. Standing in front of a parking machine, at night, in the dark is asking to be mugged. Obviously I’m going to the entergainment district so I either have cash or credit cards on me. I’m using a machine that’s slower than an ATM machine. What’s to prevent criminals from targeting people standing in front of these machines for 5 minutes at a time? In larger cities, parking companies run the parking. They pay a lease to the city to run them. There’s an attendant. You pay the attendant when you enter and you’re done. You don’t have to run back to the machine to plug more money in if you decide to extend your outing. There is clear signage advertising the price before you pull in. On street parking in large cities is free after 5:00 p.m. and on weekends to encourage people to spend their time and money in the city entertainment areas rather than staying in the suburbs or shopping at the mall. People who frequent pay lots can get parking passes. The tollways in Illinois and Florida have I-pass cards so you don’t have to stop and be inconvenienced. Why can’t Fayetteville issue similar parking pass cards? Scan in and scan out and pay for the time you were there instead of in hour increments. They need to do something so that you can pay without having to stand outside of your vehicle, totally exposed with your wallet out.

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rdavis October 14, 2010 at 1:38 pm

I’ve seen several people held up for a good amount of time in front of the machines and heard stories from others about long lines. I hope there is a solution to make the process at least move a little faster. Also, just got my first parking ticket after having forgot to add more time to the meter. Sigh. Goodbye $10.

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