Mayor Chris Beutler today kicked off the new First Hour Free program in downtown parking garages and displayed one of the new digital, solar-powered parking meters that may soon be installed. The City's downtown garages also now offer "shopper zones" on the lower levels for those parking for three hours or less.
"These improvements reflect a new approach to downtown parking - using it as an economic development tool to encourage more people to come downtown," said Mayor Beutler. "The goal is to make parking in downtown Lincoln a more positive experience with abundant, convenient and low-cost options."
The City-owned parking facilities and programs have been re-branded as "Park & Go," with new orange signage. The City operates 13 downtown facilities with a total capacity of more than 5,000 spaces. The First Hour Free program is available in all City-owned garages and the Iron Horse surface parking lot. The new parking meters scheduled to be installed this fall will allow users to pay for parking with their credit cards.
"For years we've heard, 'I never go downtown, it's too hard to park,'" said Dave Landis, Director of the City Urban Development Department. "These exciting changes are intended to accommodate downtown visitors and keep our parking rates among the lowest compared to comparably sized cities."
"Downtown Lincoln businesses are excited about the changes," said Terry Uland, President of the Downtown Lincoln Association (DLA). "A new parking strategy has been a priority of DLA for a long time. The new initiatives are a great fit with the Downtown Master Plan completed a few years ago. It's great to see the years of study, community meetings and hard work on the parking issue pay off for businesses, residents and visitors."
Earlier steps taken by Beutler to improve downtown parking include the appointment of a Parking Advisory Council. Beutler also consolidated the entire parking system into the Urban Development Department. Functions had previously been handled by three other departments
Earlier this month, the Mayor announced that downtown parking enforcement would be privatized, saving the City money and allowing for the adoption of a more customer-friendly "parking ambassador" strategy.
In addition to the parking facilities being planned in connection with the arena, two new garages are planned: another in the Haymarket and a new 650-stall facility on "Q" Street between 13th and 14th as part of the Urban 38 Group's retail and housing development.
For more information on downtown parking, call City Parking Services at 441-6472 or visit parkandgo.org. E-pay services include pre-paid, reserved event parking; monthly billing; the purchase and re-loading of iPark cards; and the payment of parking tickets.
CITY DOWNTOWN PARKING FACILITIES: