Fort Smith City Leaders Waive Parking Fees For December

FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- We're entering the season of giving and the City of Fort Smith is getting into the spirit by offering something to those who live and spend time downtown.

The Fort Smith Board of Directors will offer free parking during December. The city did this last year, but when they did they lost $4,000 worth of revenue.

Some local shop owners see this as a positive, while others said it's troublesome.

"We do have customers that will not come down here during the week because of the parking and the cost," Lisa Moore, Second Time Around co-owner said. "We're trying so hard to get people into downtown Fort Smith anyway and I think free parking for the whole month would get them down here."

"When you do the free parking thing and you don't see the turnover, you look out there and see the same six cars parked out there all day," Sam Wald, Tip Top Western Wear owner said. "You watch the poor older people that are trying to get to Area Agency on Aging and they're having to park two or three blocks away."

Right now, it costs people 25 cents to park for an hour. However, leaders think that if they offer free parking during the holidays it will attract small business shopping. "It's another way we can give back to the community," said City Administrator Carl Geffken.

"Hopefully when we come into the Christmas season that we help benefit our downtown merchants," Geffken said.

Free parking will be from December 1st - December 31st. The city will put bags over each parking meter downtown so drivers won't have to pay.