After lengthy debate, negotiations, and an offering of a "friendly" amendment, the Fayetteville City Council, on Monday, moved to consider decreasing the time motorists must pay for downtown on-street parking by two hours at the end of a weekday.
The motion to change the paid parking times from the current 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to the proposed 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. was made by Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Jensen.
The Council voted 6 to 4 to accept the idea of reducing the weekday on-street paid parking by two hours during its first work session held in the newly redesigned City Council Chambers.
Mayor Mitch Colvin and Councilmembers Antonio Jones, Chris Davis, Larry Wright, and D.J. Haire voted in favor of Jensen's motion.
Council members Shakeyla Ingram, Courtney Banks-McLaughlin, Yvonne Kinston, and Johnny Dawkins opposed the change.
Ironically, it was Ingram – participating in Monday's workshop remotely – who initially asked that that on-street paid parking be changed from its current 12-hour time frame to 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. She said her request was based on conversations she had with downtown business owners. At first, she considered asking that on-street paid parking ceases at 5 p.m. because it was hurting downtown businesses.
"Paid parking after 5 p.m. and during events on weekends has a negative impact on the cultural and economic vitality of downtown," she states in her written request to add the issue to the Council's agenda. The Council adopted the on-street paid parking fee structure in July 2021.
Ingram also asked that the special event parking times be reduced before and immediately after the event, specifically baseball games at Segra Stadium. Currently, a $5 parking fee starts two hours before a baseball game until two hours after the game. She asked that those times be shortened to one hour before the game and a half-hour after the game. Additionally, she asked that the city no longer reserve often unused and remote parking deck spaces for baseball game attendees. Neither of those two requests was considered by the council for inclusion in the upcoming agenda.
Lee Jernigan, city traffic engineer, said that changing the times on the parking signs would cost about $8,000 to keep them aesthetically pleasing. Before the vote, he told the council that the financial loss incurred by Ingram's proposal to cease charging after 6 p.m. would total $83,000 annually, although the city would incur a savings of $12,900 by not having to pay the third-party contract to enforce parking after 6 p.m.
Jernigan also displayed a 2019 baseball parking revenue chart totaling $92,799. He said he used 2019 figures because it was the last year not affected by COVID. The chart showed that Ray Avenue and Franklin Street parking were the greatest revenue producers coming in a $23,636 and $24,166 respectively. The city's parking fund provides $158,726 for debt services for Segra Stadium.