History Repeats As Augusta City Leaders Take On Parking

History Repeats As Augusta City Leaders Take On Parking (Image 1)

Michael Cosper pulled into a space right next to the two hour parking sign on Broad Street, with no worries about getting a ticket.

“Right now, we're not enforcing the parking the two hour limit until we come back and look at that,” says City Administrator Fred Russell.

“I think it would be better for the city if we didn't have the two hour parking,” said Cosper, who said the last time he was downtown he visited five or six stores.

Twenty or so Broad Street merchants want changes to downtown parking. They signed a petition to end the two hour parking in the median, between 12th Street and 13th Street.

As we told you last week, in April of 1996, the Augusta Commisison voted to do just that, approving taking down the two hour parking signs in the median on Broad Street.

That decision lasted just five months. In September, they voted to put them back up again. And now, the city is again taking on downtown parking.

“It just goes back and forth for too many years, it's just time to get something in place that we can sign and the Sheriff can enforce,” says Traffic Engineer Steve Cassell.

So, go ahead Commissioners…enforce the two hour limit, the signs are already up, but for some Commissioners that's easier said the done.

“Businesses I talked to downtown are not in favor of a two hour parking. They want to see it unlimited,” says Commissioner Bill Fennoy, who represent the downtown area.   

Then let the cars park all day.

“You got to have turnover there. Now, it's going to hurt retail, there's just not enough parking for people to park and be there for eight hours a day,” says Mayor Pro-Tem Corey Johnson.

So, Commissioners are divided on the best way to go when it comes to a parking solution, but a majority agreed to a $11 million parking deck on Reynolds Street, but that hasn't solved the parking problem.

“When you have unlimited parking everywhere else, there's no reason to use the deck,” says Cassell.

So, by not enforcing the two hour limit, the city is hurting the parking deck it has built and is getting money from.

“Obviously, but at this point we can afford that. While it would be nice to keep it full all the time, that wasn't part of the plan, ” says Russell.

Commissioners are scheduled to hear recommendations on a parking plan at Tuesday's committee meetings.

Engineering Services Committee Chairman Joe Jackson does not support a piecemeal approach of allowing two hour parking some places on Broad Street but not in others.

Cassell says one thing he will recommend is doing away with the two hour parking limits on Greene Street and Telfair Street downtown and all the cross streets south of Ellis Street.

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