Boone mulls downtown parking changes
The town of Boone is considering changes to downtown parking, including the addition of meters and changes to Saturday parking.
Last year, the town tinkered with parking rules to address Saturday traffic for Appalachian State University football games, funding parking monitors and using satellite parking areas. However, the plan lost money and left business owners still complaining about a lack of available spaces for shoppers.
John Cooper, local business owner and county commissioner, spoke as a member of the Boone parking task force, saying parking for Appalachian State University football games was still hurting downtown businesses. Cooper presented recommendations of the committee, which includes installing parking meters and enforcing time limits during weekends.
The areas of most focus include King Street and Howard Street, with the current proposal having three-hour limits in the Queen Street lot. Cooper said two-hour parking on Saturdays would provide more leisurely shopping but also limit those parking for games and those who park downtown for an entire weekend.
The committee also recommended that parking tickets cost $20 instead of $10, with pay stations a possible alternative to meters. Cooper said signs should both reflect any rules changes and also instruct motorists that parking money would be used for downtown improvements.
"We've put meters on the least convenient spaces and made free the most valuable spaces," Cooper said. He said the town earns about $105,000 in meter money and parking fines above what the town pays McLaurin Parking to patrol town spaces.
Town manager Greg Young said the revenues from parking money went into the General Fund to pay for the Queen Street parking lot and that the town had lost money on its programs last year to regulate football parking.
Town attorney Sam Furgieuele said state statute required that fines and parking money be used in specific ways and said it might require creating separate funds for different revenue sources.
The task force also recommended keeping one-hour parking for weekdays, setting the price at $1 an hour, or 25 cents per 15 minutes. The committee suggested pay stations would be more attractive than meters, with up to eight spaces per station.
Cooper said there was abuse of the one-hour parking spaces because some people move the vehicle slightly forward or to the next space and said meters might lead people to seek monthly parking. He said current ordinance language didn't mean the intent of the ordinance and should be revised.
The task force recommended using Watauga County parking spaces during football games, with a proposed cost of $20 for the day, with no charge to Watauga residents with valid addresses on their drivers' licenses.
The council voted to compile a cost analysis of different programs for future consideration, which Young said could require amendments to the budget and town parking code.