Free parking on Main Street will soon be over
The Main Street Makeover eliminated the parking meters on Main Street and free parking has been the status quo for over a year. Visitors to the downtown area noticed that employees and business owners were snagging the good on-street parking for themselves. That has ended.
By the end of the month, 300 meters covering the on-street parking in downtown Rochester will be ready to take your coins, as well as your credit cards. The old meters took coins only, at a rate of .25 per hour. The new meters will be solar-powered and the new rate will be $1.00 per hour. Also new are the times the metered parking is in effect. Previously, metered parking was from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Now, visitors will be required to pay to park from 9:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. those same six days. Sundays will still be free.
Parking Management District
Off-street parking also has its issues. The Rochester City Council voted yes on a broad based policy on Monday evening. “My ‘yes’ vote … was a commitment to building Rochester’s parking infrastructure in our central business district to support its current strength and future growth. Rochester must continue to move forward and invest in our future,” said Rochester Mayor Jeffrey T. Cuthbertson.
The plan calls for a parking management system of all the off-street parking lots within the Parking Management District. The “district” is roughly from the south bridge to the north bridge and from Water Street to Pine Street. The public lots will be managed with different price tiers based on proximity to the downtown area. Some lots will be metered and others will be free.
Parking Platforms are Next
Over the next 18 months or so, the city will be looking at designs, taking bids, and contracting out the construction of two platform-parking decks. One behind Mr. B’s on the west side (University and Fourth) and the second one behind the Main Street Plaza on the east side (University and Fourth). These two platform parking lots will hold 763 spaces, adding a net gain of 527 parking spaces to the downtown.
One controversial part of the plan calls for a special assessment within the Parking Management District on business owners. To offset the cost of the project, an average retail shop will pay $400-$500 annually for three years.
Mayor Pro Tem, Stuart Bikson, of the Rochester City Council Said “I could not vote for it.” Bikson was one of two “no” votes Monday evening. While he is “for the parking,” he takes issue with the Special Assessment District (SAD). “It’s a tax,” said Bikson, who offered council other ways to fund the project without adding the burden onto the businesses. His suggestions, such as pulling from the budget of the council or getting the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) to pay it will not be the way the project is funded.
“City Council will be taking several actions” along the way, said City Manager Jaymes Vettraino. While the policy is a done deal, public hearing and legislation will also tweak the project as it moves forward.
Read Rochester Media’s initial report on Parking in Downtown Rochester.