Meter Rates Might Double On Garrison Avenue

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- Fort Smith city officials are considering increasing the prices of parking meters downtown, which is a decision that may impact customers, as well as local businesses.

Parking on Garrison Avenue has remained the same since 1985, but soon, parking at a meter might cost 50 cents. The current price for parking at a meter on Garrison Avenue is 25 cents per hour.

Officials said the city is losing money on parking, and leaders are taking a closer look at an increase.

This proposal is in the early stages, and several factors are being reviewed before a decision happens.

The proposed increase will not only add money to the budget, it may also help regulate the amount of time people are spending downtown.

Businesses along Garrison Avenue including Salon 504 have customers that come in for hours at a time and said the increase might affect their business.

"It's been a struggle for us,"  said Cosmetologist Shannon Howard. "We feed the meter for our clients, and we want them to feel comfortable coming down here, but it's hard when the meters are running and people are worried about time. Most of our clients are here for at least a few hours."

A business owner explained that he doesn't see the increase impacting his customers, and said he thinks the rates are important to keep people from leaving their vehicles downtown for lengthy periods.

If city leaders do vote for an increase, and if it passes, officials will use that money for maintenance of the parking garage and meters.

Officials said they plan to meet with the Downtown Merchants Association before making any final decisions to send the proposal to a board study session.