Racine Alderman proposes removing parking meters throughout the city

NOW: Racine Alderman proposes removing parking meters throughout the city


RACINE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A Racine Alderman is calling for all parking meters to go, making parking free throughout the city.

It's sparking debate among business owners. They say they hear customers complaining frequently about the hassle of paying for parking but aren't completely sold on getting rid of the meters altogether.

If one Alderman has his way, parking meters in Racine could be a thing of the past.

5th District Alderman Steve Smetana proposed the idea of free parking at the last Common Council meeting.

Businessowner Brad Jaeck says most of his customers complain about paying to park. "The people come in and just look around and try to do some shopping, what happens is they get a ticket. I think it's $20 now. Then it's really a deterrent because you're pretty much getting nailed for doing some general shopping," said Jaeck, owner of Photographic Design.

If the City Council gets on board, every single parking meter would be removed and parking throughout the city would be free.

Jim Venturini with the Downtown Racine Corporation says there's a catch to free parking.

"Not a straight, simple answer. If you remove the parking meters, the situation you could run into is the residents in the area using the parking spaces for all day parking or obviously overnight parking," Venturini said.

However, he says the move could motivate more people to shop downtown.

"Would free parking draw more business? Absolutely. I think it would be a positive thing. I think it has to be tested. It has to be played with a little bit," Venturini said.

"The fact that they're talking about it is something that hasn't happened in a long, long time."

The City's Department of Public Works had no comment.

Alderman Smetana's proposal will be up for discussion at the city's next Transit and Parking Committee Meeting.

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