Michaela Lumpert, Campus Carrier Staff Writer
On Wednesday, March 21, the City of Rome held a public forum for residents to learn about the new parking changes coming to downtown.
Right now, visitors to Rome are enjoying free parking on Broad Street and neighboring streets around downtown Rome. Parking decks around the downtown area are all paid parking during the day, but with the new plan, all parking on Broad Street and the neighboring streets will be paid parking, and the parking decks will all be free.
26 kiosks will be placed around the downtown area where visitors can pay for their parking. The fees that are currently in place for the new plan are $1.25 for 1-3 hours and $3.00 for every 4+ hours.
The city is also hoping to implement an app where visitors can add time to the spots. The app will also notify customers when their time is about to expire. Customers of the new plan can also expect a 15-minute grace period twice a day if they go over their time. The Rome Chariot shuttle will still operate as a way for visitors to get to and from their cars.
Rome City officials are hoping this new plan will bring in enough revenue to fund new parking projects around the city. Some of their plans include building new parking decks, increasing security around the decks and the city and increasing the lighting in the decks and the city. City officials also hope to use the kiosks as a way to display information to visitors as they are paying for their parking.
There was a live vote at the Forum asking residents what they would like to see the money be spent on. The items up to vote were adding public bikes to use around town, increasing security on crosswalks and parking decks, building new parking decks and renovating the lighting in each deck.
Residents of the Rome came to the forum filled with concerns for the parking plan. Lots of elderly people thought the walk from the different parking decks to the shops downtown is too far. Other residents said changing the parking will take the convenience away from spots downtown. Some businesses owners were upset because they believe that with the new plan, they will lose customers because they don’t want to have to park far away from the stores.
City officials continued to remind everyone that even though it will be a lot of change, it’s change that is needed and manageable.
After this forum, the public can still continue to put input in until the summer starts. City managers will meet to make the final decision before city officials give approval. They hope to implement the new plan by the fall.