Shoppers and diners may find more free parking spaces in downtown Oneonta.
And the cost to park in the lower level of the municipal parking garage will be cut in about half starting Dec. 1.
The Oneonta Common council approved measures Tuesday night to adjust parking regulations and fees. The changes were made in response to feedback from merchant and users, city officials said.
Word about the changes was shared at the MSO board meeting earlier this month, program manager Julia Goff said Thursday. The changes are an incentive for customers and shoppers because they will feel able to spend more time downtown, she said.
The board of MSO, an organization that supports and promotes downtown businesses and activities, welcomed the adjustments.
“The board immediately was glad to hear these changes were coming,” Goff said. “ It’s great for our merchants and for our businesses.”
City officials said changes include:
• Individual street meters will be removed, and those spaces will offer free parking, with time restrictions.
• In the middle and top level of the parking garage, all two-hour spaces will become four-hour spaces, and four-hour spaces will be converted to “no parking between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m.”
• The cost to park in the lower level of the municipal garage will be cut in half, city officials said. Rates will be 50 cents an hour with a seven-hour maximum, and $5 a day with a three-day maximum, or $20 weekly with a two-week maximum or $50 for a 30-day month. The changes will go into effect Dec. 1.
Previous rates were $1 an hour, $8 a day, $40 a week and $100 a month.
No changes have been made to parking in the Dietz, Westcott and Wall Street parking lots, city officials said.
The changes expand opportunities for free parking and enhance longer-term parking options for downtown employees, Mayor Dick Miller said in a report to the Common Council’s Community Improvement Committee at a recent meeting.
Generally, the city has more than enough parking throughout the downtown area, though in any community motorists cannot park exactly where they want at any given moment, Miller said.
“The issue of parking is always interesting,” he said Thursday. “We’re in a good place.”
Jeff House, acting director of community development, conducted an informal study of the use of parking spaces, including side streets intersecting Main Street, and parking lots, Miller said in a memorandum to the committee and MSO.
The metered rates in the bottom level of the parking garage were set in response to property and business owners comments that there was insufficient long-term parking, specifically week-long and month-long options, House said last week.
But city officials noted about a month ago that there was little use of the garage’s lowest level, House said, and at the same time, business people and workers said there weren’t enough all-day parking spaces. Also, reaction was that the fees in the garage were too high, he said.
The city doesn’t aim to make money with parking fees, which go toward expenses, such as painting stripes and cleaning and maintaining the garage, House said.
In 2012, the city collected about $30,340 from parking meters, Virginia Lee, deputy director of finance said Thursday. Collections from parking violation tickets were about $108,730 that year, she said.