Fayetteville To Launch “Event Parking” Method Saturday
By Richard Davis
A while back, the Fayetteville City Council approved another tweak to the pay parking system. That tweak — event parking — will get its first test Saturday evening, July 9 during the Walton Arts Center presentation of “Guys and Dolls.”
People were still having problems getting out of the gated pay lot across from the WAC in a timely fashion when the arts center was packed to the gills for big shows. Complaints I’ve heard ranged from 30 minutes to an hour and longer to get out of the lot following high profile acts like when B.B. King played at the WAC last year.
The city’s solution? Raise the gates and charge a flat $5 fee — cash only, accepted by human hands instead of machine — during big events, starting 3 hours prior to a show. Then the gates would be raised again and people would be on hand to accept tickets allowing exit when the big show ends.
Hopefully, this will let both entrance and exit to the gated lot run smoother. Brian Crowne of George’s Majestic Lounge and Julie Still of Common Grounds spoke at the city council meeting when the changes were approved and were hopeful the tweak would be good for their businesses as well.
Here’s the city’s description of how the parking hoopla will go down:
“Event parking for the Walton Arts Center Parking Lot on the corner of West Avenue and Dickson Street will occur this Saturday for the first time from 5:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. during the evening WAC Show “Guys and Dolls”. Event parking was passed by the Fayetteville City Council as another way to ease traffic and parking congestion during pre-show arrival times and post-show exiting times in the Entertainment District.
During the times of event parking at the Walton Arts Center Lot it will cost a flat fee of $5.00. Event parking will begin 3 hours prior to the show time (starting at 5 p.m.) and last until either the lot is full or 30 minutes after the start of the Walton Arts Center show. The $5.00 cash event parking fee will be collected upon entry into the lot by Walton Arts Center Parking staff members. Only cash payments will be accepted. During the Pre-Show entry period, the Walton Arts Center Lot entry gates located on West Avenue will be raised and staffed by Walton Arts Center Staff to facilitate quick cash payment acceptance and entry into the lot. The Walton Arts Center entry gate attendants will be providing a validated parking ticket to individuals parking in the WAC lot. This process will allow cars to enter this large-capacity lot faster during this pre-show high-traffic time. It is important for patrons of the Entertainment District who wish to enter and park in this lot between the times of 5:00-8:30 p.m. to have $5.00 in cash available. If individuals wish to pay by credit card or debit card, they will need to seek parking in the other gated lots or pay-by-space parking spaces where all forms of payment (cash and credit card payments) are accepted.
Immediately following the end of the Walton Arts Center show this Saturday (estimated between 10:00-10:45 p.m.), Walton Arts Center staff will be stationed at each exit gate. Again, the gates will be raised, and the WAC Staff will collect the tickets issued during event parking entry to assist in ushering out the high-volume post-show traffic from the lot. To further assist moving traffic during this time, police will be directing traffic on Dickson Street and West Avenue, and the traffic light at the corner of Dickson Street and West Avenue will be manually-controlled. The police will direct and manage traffic flow in an effort to safely and effectively move the large volume of vehicles through that area of the Entertainment District. This process will allow the parking lot to empty of cars faster and also accommodate the high volumes of pedestrian traffic that occur at the same time periods on these same streets.
Any individuals who have entered during the event parking time period, or individuals who entered the lot to attend the WAC Show and who wish to stay beyond the period of time in which the gates are raised immediately following the show for mass exits, will simply utilize the ticket received during entry and enter it into the proper slot at the exit gates when exiting. The gates will raise and allow exiting with no additional charges until 2 p.m. the following day when paid parking begins again for the new day.
The City of Fayetteville and Walton Arts Center appreciate your understanding while we work through this first evening of Event Parking. It is our hope that we will be able to refine the process of moving high-volume traffic through a tight historic entertainment area safely and with better ease, much like the success of traffic control prior to and after Razorback football games that efficiently and safely moves high-volume traffic through the city. For additional information, please contact Sharon Waters at 575-8277 or Beth Goodwin of the Walton Arts Center at 571-2747.”