New parking commission looking at recommendation for downtown meters, or kiosks

A person walks out of the post office in downtown Columbus, Ind., Thursday March 19, 2020. Mike Wolanin | The Republic Mike Wolanin

COLUMBUS, Ind. — A newly appointed city parking commission is considering whether parking meters or kiosks might be a solution to a shortage of on-street parking in downtown Columbus.

During the group’s first meeting, the commission discussed downtown parking issues, including violations of the three-hour parking space limit by long-term visitors such as those who work downtown.

Commission Chairman and City Councilman Tom Dell said that while parking kiosks are always a “sensitive issue,” they could help the city remedy this problem.

“We didn’t realize back in the ’70s that parking meters really provided a good deterrent from abuses of our prime parking,” he said. “So it encourages turnover, and it discourages long-term parking.”

However, commission member and City Engineer Dave Hayward said that some people might not go downtown if the city puts parking meters or kiosks in.

People would adjust to the change over time, said commission member Jeff Baker.

“Everybody was screaming bloody murder in Bloomington when they first put them in,” he said. ” ‘No one’s going to go downtown.’ Well, from everything I’m hearing, downtown Bloomington has got people parking all of the time, and they’re paying the money. So, once again, it’s behavioral modification. Any time we make changes to anything, we have people that are going to be upset.”

For the complete story, see Friday’s Republic.