The hordes of people who are going to River Market on weekends and increasingly during the week should be alert to a coming change.
Beginning in late July, Kansas City plans on a 90-day parking meter demonstration in the River Market. The River Market eight multi-space meter installation will take place along the perimeter of the City Market, from Grand Boulevard to Fifth Street and from Main Street to Third Street.
The rate will be $1 per hour with a two-hour maximum, which is the current time regulation in these unmetered spots. Although it’s a test and a demonstration, once those meters go in on concrete pads, they’re not coming back out.
It’s the first on-street paid parking in the River Market in recent memory, said Beth Breitenstein, public information officer for the city’s public works department. She said it’s being done in response to a parking audit conducted last fall that recommended ways the city could better manage its parking resources. More information is at http://kcmo.gov/publicworks/rivermarketparking/.
More details will also be provided when the city firms up the dates for installation.
New meters, plus beefed-up enforcement that is also in the works, are intended to ensure effective management of public parking spaces and to encourage public transit use, plus economic growth and development.
“I think people will adapt,” predicted Deb Churchill, property manager for the City Market in River Market. “We’re one of the few cities to have downtown free parking.”
Churchill noted that, with the advent of the downtown streetcar service in May 2016, more and more people have been using the River Market as a “park and ride” spot. The city began imposing stricter time limits on parking spaces last fall, but lax city enforcement of the two-hour time limits means there’s not enough turnover on those spots for customer and tenant parking.
“By putting in the meters, we’ll keep the turnover at a consistent basis for customer parking,” she said.
The rollout will be slow as the city works with a variety of vendors to test different types of meters. But eventually, Churchill predicted, much of the on-street areas of River Market and elsewhere in downtown will have metered parking.
She said she’s not worried about it cutting into City Market’s customer base, pointing out that the Planters Seed and Spice Co., 513 Walnut, owns a lot on Walnut Street that has had paid parking for a few years.
Various other parking lots in River Market and downtown are also likely to move more to paid parking, within six months to a year. The city hopes to start construction in late fall on a parking garage at Fifth and Main streets that could open next summer and that would also have paid parking.
For the moment, however, city officials note that people coming down to River Market on weekends should check out the free parking at Seventh and Main streets. The lot is between Main and Walnut streets, just north of Seventh Street. It’s near a streetcar stop and a few blocks south of River Market, which can be horribly congested on Saturday mornings. While free, it’s still not well known or well used on weekends.
The city has also budgeted for enhanced parking enforcement, using a third party vendor for services that can include booting. Proposals for those services were due to the city July 27, but the selection has not yet been made.