Enforcement to start on digital parking meters on Gay Street

Enforcement to start on digital parking meters on Gay Street

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6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The first digital, multi-space parking meters will start running in downtown Knoxville Monday.  

Knoxville law enforcement will issue parking citations to those who do not obtain a parking slip from two new electronic meters on the 100 block of Gay Street.  

"The hope is you'll be able to find an easy place to park if you come down for an hour or two," said City of Knoxville Downtown Coordinator Rick Emmett.  

The meters accept cash and credit cards. They charge a fee of $1 per hour with a two-hour limit.

"This is just the new technology," Emmett said. "Most of our peer cities are using this technology." 

The 100 block of Gay Street underwent major reconstruction in 2009, during which time old parking meters were taken out.  

Since then, many parking spots on the block were considered "free" and "first-come, first-serve."  

"We've had people that have abused the free spots, and park here two or three days at time," said Patti Smith, a longtime resident of Gay Street.

The city and other residents said the new meters will encourage more turnover and more flow on the street, which they believe will help businesses.  

"We've got a new restaurant that's opening up here in a couple of weeks, and several businesses," Smith said. "Clients need a place to park."  

The $1 per hour fee matches parking rates for city garages. Some residents, however, think the new meter fees are too high.    

"There seems to be better ways to bring money into the city than charging people and making a monopoly of parking," said Robert Crawford, a Knoxville resident and employee of a 100 block business.

Coin-operated meters on the Gay Street Bridge and nearby parking lots cost less.  

"The older meters have a lesser rate, no doubt about it," Emmett said.  

The city plans to monitor the success of the new meters over the coming months and may expand their use throughout downtown.  

Officials with the city said many of the older meters were reported to malfunction and would need to be replaced.  

The new meters have mobile capability, so cell phones can be used to call in and add time. Officials said they will wait and see if they want to add that feature in the future.

Vehicles using the commercial parking and handicap spaces won't have to pay for parking.

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