University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) workers who park in Fondren before heading off for a full day of class should start making new plans.
The city of Jackson is planning to limit public parking in the historic Fondren Business District to two hours.
The move is one of several steps city and neighborhood leaders are taking to alleviate parking concerns in the historic corridor.
Jackson officials are also looking at installing parking meters, while business owners have begun towing unauthorized vehicles from their private lots.
As for public parking, city officials hope to implement the time limits in following the completion of two major construction projects there.
“The first step is to convert a significant amount of parking into two-hour parking only. The next step will be installing parking meters,” said Jackson Director of Planning and Development Mukesh Kumar.
Kumar didn’t know when meters would be installed, and said the city was in talks with several meter providers.
The first areas affected by the time limits will be along North State Street and Duling Avenue, two major roadways in the business district.
The district is bordered by North State and Old Canton Road, and includes Fondren Place, Fondren Avenue, Morgan Place and Duling Avenue.
Construction projects in the district include a $2.7 million streetscape project, which includes widening public sidewalks and installing pedestrian friendly features.
“We are down to the punch list items. The only thing remaining is the final striping,” said Fondren Renaissance Foundation (FRF) Executive Director Jim Wilkirson.
The second project, which is expected to begin in the next few weeks, will include repaving Duling Avenue and Fondren Place.
Parking in the district has been a problem for years.
Business owners say the main culprits are medical students and staffers from UMMC who will not only park in public areas, but also attempt to park in private lots.
Those associated with the hospital are easy to spot, because they are usually wearing scrubs. And instead of going into one of the businesses in the district, they’re typically seen hoofing it to the university.
About 10 to 15 UMMC associates attempt to park at the 3000 Building each morning, according to Scott Overby, owner of the Overby Company, the firm that manages the property.
Security at the 3000 building informs violators that the lot is for 3000 patrons only, and that their vehicles could be towed if left there.
“We’ve talked to the university and they are great. They tell everyone not to park in Fondren. They just can’t do anything to enforce it,” he said. “They (medical students) also park at the Woodland Hills Shopping Center and in the Cups parking lot.”
Overby supports time-limited parking but doesn’t support parking meters.
“A lot of municipalities do one-hour parking,” he said. “I think that would be a better plan for us. I feel it’s a turnoff if you have to pay for parking when you come to a business.”
Barry Plunkett, owner of Interiors Market, at 659 Duling, supports time limits and parking meters.
“I think they’re fine. If you’re coming for general enjoyment and you enjoy what Fondren has to offer, why not pay back a little bit?” he asked. “Fondren offers so much, so it’s OK to give back.”