Fondren parking meters on holdBy ANTHONY WARREN,
Jackson city leaders are pumping the brakes on plans to install parking meters in Fondren, at least temporarily.
The city had hoped to hire a firm to install meters by January.
However, those plans were temporarily sidelined after getting opposition feedback from some residents.
“There was a little bit of push back from some residents in Fondren and we wanted to have time to have some community meetings to discuss what the city was planning,” Chief Administrative Officer Robert Blaine said.
“One of the things the mayor has been very adamant about is that the city should no longer design and decree but should co-create with residents.”
The news comes more than two months after Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba discussed plans with the city council.
Initial plans were to install meters along North State Street, Duling Avenue and other areas in the Fondren Business District, study the impact of the meters and if they should be installed elsewhere in the city.
Business owners have been clamoring for meters to help cut down on long-term parking in the area.
Students and staffers from the University of Mississippi Medical Center have been blamed for tying up parking in the area for several hours at a time, parking that would otherwise be available to Fondren Business District patrons.
Some residents, though, don’t like the idea of having to pay for parking in an area where parking has always been free.
Jackson Planning and Development Director Mukesh Kumar said such push back is not uncommon.
“Really, it’s just a few people who thought that anything different from today might be a problem,” he said.
Kumar said the city has put together a team from public works and the Jackson Police Department to draw up an RFP based on residents’ and business concerns.
“We want to do a total evaluation before moving forward. We have to pay attention to everything from signage to enforcement, to fines and to what kind of meters would be appropriate,” he said. “We are still scheduled to issue the RFP within the next couple of months.”
Officials are also planning a series of public meetings in March to discuss plans and answer any questions residents might have. No meetings had been set at press time.
Said Kumar, “We will make sure there is a significant communications component to it.”
In November, Lumumba asked the council for permission to issue an RFP, a move that is not required under city statute. The council approved the request on a 4-1 vote.
The mayor said Fondren was chosen not only to help alleviate congestion, but to help maintain parking meter revenues as meters elsewhere in the city are updated.
Jackson has approximately 6,400 public parking stalls, with the majority of metered parking in the downtown corridor.
Blaine said the city was looking to install meters that would allow patrons to pay with cash, credit/debit cards or smart phone applications.
The Fondren district has approximately 80 public parking stalls.