You may have to pay to park on some downtown Macon streets next year

Maconites talk about downtown parking proposals

Parking meters, gone since the 1980s, could well return but not everybody thinks they are great or equitable.
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Parking meters, gone since the 1980s, could well return but not everybody thinks they are great or equitable.

The Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority could hire a company to help manage downtown parking as early as next month.

The plan at Thursday’s UDA meeting was to vote on a contract with Lanier Parking Solutions, but because of a recent change in leadership at the company, the contract had not been finalized.

One of the missing details was the fee Lanier would charge the authority, board members said.

“We have to cram in more in the next three weeks so that when we get together again on (Nov. 9) we will have more to talk about than just the contract,” UDA attorney Blake Sharpton said. “We’ll have to talk about the (public relations), talk about the messaging, have all of that ready.”

Urban Development Authority board members said they want to give the public at least 60 days notice once the parking changes are given the final go ahead. The new parking plan could go into effect in early 2018.

If the contract with Lanier is approved, the company would help manage on-street and off-street parking, and develop a residential parking permit system. A major expected change is the installation of parking meters along some of downtown’s busiest blocks, such as Cherry Street from First Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Last year, Macon-Bibb commissioners moved downtown parking management under the Urban Development Authority’s control. The UDA is tasked with implementing a plan that reduces problems such as businesses losing out on customers because vehicles are parked too long on the street.

Parking meters were one of the recommendations for increasing the parking turnover.

The price to park at the meters could range from 50 cents to $1 per hour depending on the block.

Downtown Macon had parking meters for years. Then, in 1983, Macon City Council voted to remove all the meters — there were 1,268 of them — and increase the fines for overtime parking.

More downtown parking spaces will be available once two new parking decks are built. The UDA is using $15 million in bonds to construct the two parking garages, one of which will be located next to the Central City Commons mixed-use development on Poplar Street.

Stanley Dunlap: 478-744-4623, @stan_telegraph