From Pulaski Street to North Thomas Street and from East Broad Street to West Dougherty Street, 54 parking meters sit in need of repair or are missing altogether as of July 16, according to a map posted on the Athens Banner-Herald’s website.
Many people have been inconvenienced by these parking meters, or lack thereof, but Downtown Athens Parking System has a plan of action to fix this problem.
“We’re working with the county government on purchasing new meters to replace the old meters that we’re having problems with,” said Chuck Horton, parking director for Athens Downtown Development Authority. “We’re also looking at ways to generate more interest for parking in the decks.”
Downtown parking affects those living in Athens-Clarke County communities as well as University of Georgia students living on campus.
“I’ve been ticketed because of a broken meter, and now these spots just seem off-limits in general,” said Deven Jackson, a third-year biology major from Rydal.
Although some people who have parked in spots with a missing or broken meter have received tickets, the Athens DDA is trying to be as “lenient as possible,” according to Horton.
Whether there is a parking meter or not, the time limits still stand. Before 6 p.m., the limit to remain in a spot is two hours, and after 6 p.m., the limit goes up to four hours.
The missing meters have also resulted in a money issue.
“In some cases there is no meter at all, so we’re trying to put something back in those spots to generate some income,” Horton said.
People who park in a spot with a missing or broken meter and ignore the time restrictions also pose a threat to attracting customers to downtown businesses.
“If you use the street as long-term parking, you’re certainly taking away the premium spots from people who might come in as customers,” Horton said.
Jackson expressed how the parking meter issue deters him from downtown.
“The allure of downtown Athens really takes a hit when I have to park elsewhere and walk for fear of being ticketed again,” Jackson said.
With its continual efforts to fix the problem at hand, the DDA received several complaints about downtown parking every day.
“We get complaints all the time, but we just tell people that we’re doing the best we can with what we’ve got,” Horton said. “We’re trying to be lenient where we can.”