City proposes 4-hour parking on Main Street
City Council will discuss downtown parking March 19
MONROE - The city once again is discussing downtown parking time limits and is proposing to add more four-hour parking spots.
The city’s proposal adds four-hour parking on Main Street from Madison to Woods streets and on Blakeley and Lewis streets to encourage people to shop longer downtown.
The proposal was unveiled at last week’s City Council meeting. The City Council appeared supportive of letting people shop longer in Monroe, but it wants to get more public input before changing anything.
The City Council will address the time limits at its March 19 meeting.
Council members want to reach out to residents along Fremont and Hill streets where new time limits are proposed. Those streets have no parking restrictions right now aside from a few spaces.
Mayor Robert Zimmerman encouraged increasing the time limits based on recommendations in a city-funded downtown development study that he said gives an unbiased view of the city’s needs.
“It’s for bringing business and keeping business in the city of Monroe,” Zimmerman said.
In 2009, the Chamber of Commerce and downtown group DREAM advocated for longer parking limits.
DREAM president Paula Fortier had not seen the city’s proposed changes yet, but she thinks increasing the parking time limits is a good idea.
It lets customers spend more time downtown, said Fortier, the owner of Main Clothing Company on West Main Street.
DREAM is putting together a downtown farmers market, and four-hour parking would give people plenty of time to visit without having to worry about getting a parking ticket, Fortier said.
She said she also wants the Police Department to enforce time limits better. She said she sees some business owners and downtown residents leaving their cars on Main Street all day.
“It’s not affecting their business, but it can affect retail,” Fortier said.
Hair salons and other businesses told the city two-hour parking is not enough time for their customers, public works director Brad Feilberg said.
Fortier said she lost a customer from Oregon who got a parking ticket. The woman came specifically to shop at Fortier’s store but after getting a $50 parking ticket, she said she was boycotting Monroe.
DREAM and the Chamber of Commerce recommended scattering four-hour parking throughout downtown three years ago.
The city’s proposed map increases time limits to four hours on Lewis Street north and south of Main Street, but also adds new time limits to Hill and Fremont streets. Almost all of Hill and Fremont streets have no time limits right now.
The center blocks of Main Street would stay two-hour parking, with new four-hour parking on the outer blocks. A few more 15-minute parking stalls would be added on Main Street for people running quick errands.
Parking downtown has been an issue for the city for decades.
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