Parking meters coming to Fondren in 2019

By ANTHONY WARREN,

Jackson city leaders are following through on their promise to help improve public parking in Fondren, and if all goes according to plan, 80 new parking meters could be in place by the spring.

The city is expected to issue a request for proposals (RFP) in December for a firm to install meters in the Fondren Business District.

Jackson hopes to have to hire a firm by January and have meters installed by February, according to Chief Administrative Officer Robert Blaine.

From there, the meters will be evaluated to see if the city should contract with the firm to install similar meters elsewhere in the city.

“It’s something that has been researched and the business community is looking forward to it,” Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said.

The mayor asked the council for permission to issue the RFP, a move that is not required under city statute.

The council approved the request on a 4-1 vote and commended the administration for their openness early in the RFP process.

“It allowed for there to be a response from citizens at this stage that wouldn’t (normally) have come until the RFP was already done and the contractor was selected,” said Council President Melvin Priester.

Several business leaders spoke out about the meters at the council’s November 19 work session, including some who were concerned about the idea.

Priester urged the mayor to “circle back around” to those businesses to discuss the issue further.

Ward Seven Councilwoman Virgi Lindsay urged the same but pointed to the fact that many business owners in Fondren support the plans.

“I have gotten many complaints about the fact that you have students and faculty from UMMC that park in front of these businesses and tie up parking for eight to 10 hours,” Lindsay said. “That is a concern.”

UMMC is the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Students and faculty often park in the district before going to work or class and tie up parking spaces for hours at a time.

Some business owners say the congestion has actually turned customers away during peak shopping and dining hours.

 

Voting in favor of the measure were Lindsay, Priester, and Councilmen Ashby Foote, Charles Tillman and Aaron Banks. Ward Three Councilman Kenneth Stokes was opposed to the measure and Ward Four Councilman De’Keither Stamps was absent.

Plans are to install meters along North State Street, Duling Avenue and other areas in the Fondren Business District, study the impact of the meters and determine if they should be installed elsewhere in the city.

Approximately 80 public parking stalls are located in the area, Blaine said.

Overall, Jackson has 6,400 parking stalls. The city charges 25 cents an hour to park.

Lumumba said Fondren was chosen not only to help alleviate congestion, but also to maintain parking meter revenues as meters elsewhere in the city are updated.

Blaine said the city is looking to install meters that will allow patrons to pay with cash, credit/debit cards or smart phone applications. The system also should be able to augment the city’s parking enforcement efforts.

“It would include an app where we could see where people are parking illegally or where people’s time has run out,” Blaine explained.

Lumumba said city services would not be outsourced as part of any contract.