Little Rock city leaders are debating a proposal that would get rid of free parking and replace coin meters with electronic pay and display stations downtown.
The move would push more revenue into a fund specifically for the River Market, but it’s being met with mixed reviews by visitors and people who work downtown.
“It’s a problem almost very day, it’s hard to find parking,” said Madison McPherson.
A Gusano’s employee, McPherson says she’s grateful for free, nearby spaces that many consider a highlight in a place where parking is their biggest hassle.
“When you come out and try and find parking you have to go and find a slot,” said Kala Young, visiting with her grandmother.
But the convenience could soon be gone as city leaders consider adding pay and display meters to replace free parking and coin meters.
KARK checked how the the city is enforcing it’s current meters and found a line of cars on one block without any tickets parked beside empty meters before 5:30pm Tuesday.
Drivers are supposed to pay the meters from 9 to 6 pm. City manager Bruce Moore says the proposed stations would take credit cards and print a time stamp which would make it easier to enforce time limits and force turnover, ultimately bringing more visitors and money downtown.
“It’s the core of our city, it’s our entertainment area, we know it will continue to grow, and we know we need to put more resources into it,” Moore added.
While some visitors worry about access and costs, McPherson is concerned about the price of parking too far away.
“We’ll have to park under the bridge which is a good walk away, and at night not really safe,” she said.
City leaders will vote on the issue next week. If it passes, new parking meters could be installed as early as August. Eight new parking stations will cost over $90,000 upfront. The Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau will pay over half of the costs upfront and be reimbursed with proceeds from the parking meters.