Downtown Parking Meters From 80 Minutes To 2-Hour Limit?

Downtown Businesses Are Being Asked To Weigh In

DULUTH, Minn. – Changes could soon be coming to a parking meter near you – at least in Downtown Duluth. As FOX 21’s Dan Hanger reports, it means the time limit on meters could significantly increase.

“When folks got to go out and plug their meter, they often just get in their car and drive away. So let’s not make it more inconvenient,” said Rod Raymond, owner of Blind Pig, Brewhouse and Burrito Union.

Raymond believes the current 80-minute time limit on meters in the downtown area is not enough.

“In the restaurant and entertainment model, you really need a couple hours to enjoy a band,” Raymond explained.

But changes could be in the works, according to the Greater Downtown Council.

A survey has been sent out to all businesses asking one question: Would you like to see the current 80-minute meters changed to two-hour limits?

Kristi Stokes, president of the Greater Downtown Council, says some businesses prefer shorter meters for potential quicker turnover, while other feel longer meters mean more time for customers to open their wallets, recreate, and do business.

“The city is exploring this as an opportunity and saying, you know, here’s an opportunity for us to be a little more consistent with what we have across the city. Does it make sense for you in the central business district,” Stokes said.

Eddie Gleeson owns Carmody Irish Pub and Brewing on East Superior Street.

He supports two-hour meters, just like the meters in Canal Park.

“When you have inconsistencies on times, you lose customers. And we’ve probably lost, over the course of the last six or seven years, 40 percent of our happy hour crowd because of the parking,” Gleeson said.

But Gleeson goes ever further saying the city of Duluth has created a hyper-ticket-writing culture that’s an even bigger problem.

“I’ve lost a vendor from Superior who refuses to come into downtown Duluth because they come out and there’s a ticket on their window,” Gleeson said.

Meanwhile, as businesses weight their opinions, Raymond is backing things up a bit and pointing to an even easier and more immediate solution known as current parking garages in the downtown area.

“You want to get down into these cool cultural areas, it’s a little bit of an effort, but it’s not that much to simply park there, and then walk up and down the street,” Raymond explained about the parking garage next to the downtown casino.

“It’s a buck an hour. So if you have a two-hour experience downtown, it cost you two bucks. Big deal,” Raymond said.

Survey results will be compiled by the end of March. The city council will make the ultimate vote on any changes to meters.

Meanwhile, city officials point out they’ve added 900 off-street parking spaces in the downtown area within the past yeah with the developments of the new Duluth Transit Center public ramp and the “410 West” public ramp.

The city is also exploring options to launch a city-wide pay-by-phone parking system for every paid parking space in the city.