Some members of Bloomington's Downtown Task Force expressed support Tuesday for installing new parking meters in the central business district, as the committee worked to prioritize suggestions for downtown improvements.
Ward 1 Alderman Jamie Mathy said Bloomington and Normal are the only major cities in Illinois he has seen that do not have parking meters.
"We've got it backwards right now. We've got free parking on the street and we've got people paying to park in the garages," said Mathy.
Mathy and others said they want to flip the parking culture to encourage short-term use on streets and longer term parking in the decks.
He also said some cities such as Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, offer coupons to feed into the electronic kiosks where people pay for time. He says high-end businesses such as doctors, lawyers, and architects make sure their customers get those coupons.
"We are saying if you are going to be downtown all day, put your car in the garage. It's free all day in the garage, no big deal. If you want the convenience of popping in, popping out, and buying something someplace, the business owner has the option to validate your parking, essentially," said Mathy.
Mathy also suggested parking enforcement continue later into the day. He said currently it ends at roughly 3:30 p.m. He proposed enforcement continue until 7 p.m. or 8 p.m.
The task force will present a list of priorities to the Bloomington City Council next month.
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