Downtown Harrisburg business owners met with the city's new parking authority, SP+ Municipal Services, Tuesday afternoon at the Hilton Harrisburg to voice concerns over a pending rate hike and extension of meter hours.
The event was organized by Roxbury News, and began with a slide show presentation by SP+.
"We do hear your voices and we certainly are willing to act with as much flexibility as we have," said Jon Kemp, regional manager of SP+.
Restaurant and bar owners said they are very concerned about $3/hour metered parking, and how that may prevent customers from patronizing their businesses. But even more so, there is worry over newly-extended hours through 7 p.m. each night, as well as Saturday paid parking.
"It it what it is and I understand to a certain extent, but why the 5-7? Give us that, and give us Saturdays and I think we'll be ok," said Tom Scott, owner of McGrath's Pub.
Kemp said the company does have some flexibility in amending some initial policies, but not much. The rate hike is part of a 10-year lease agreement negotiated as part of the state receiver's "Harrisburg Strong" plan, which will help get the city out of hundreds of millions of dollars in debt.
So far, the only change SP+ has made is hiking ticket fines from $14 to $30. But by mid-February, the first 35 meter machines are expected to be unveiled downtown, at which time parking rates at meters and garages will jump, Kemp said.
Downtown visitors will have the option to pay by credit or debit card via these machines; they can also insert coins, but not cash. Meter readers will keep track of which cars are paid up through license plate readers, rather than tickets on a dashboard.
To extend parking time, customers will also have the option of entering their phone number into the machine, or via the "Park Mobile" app, to feed the meter remotely.
Kemp said a newly-formed parking advisory committee, on which Mayor Eric Papenfuse sits, will consider suggestions by the small business owners. There is no date set, however, for the committee's first meeting.
For more information on rates or to ask questions directly, go to www.parkharrisburg.com.