Parking Deals The city, which long coddled garage operators and towing companies, finally focuses on visitors
Hartford Courant editorial
November 22, 2010
For years, Hartford's parking priorities have worked against the downtown's best interests.
City revenue goals have meant high parking fees at meters and city-owned garages and lots. Politicians were more interested in gifting their buddies with fat parking lot and garage management contracts than making it easier and cheaper for people to park downtown. The parking enterprise has led to scandal after scandal.
The lack — or perceived lack — of safe, convenient, affordable parking has been partly responsible for retail bleeding away from the center of Hartford. And many a victim of hawk-eyed towing companies and overzealous meter police has sworn never to drive into the city again.
But now Mayor Pedro Segarra and the city council have switched gears and approved incentive pricing to draw visitors to city garages.
The council recently passed Segarra-backed proposals such as offering a fourth free visit to anyone who parks three times in a city garage. Another incentive just for the holidays: five free days of parking starting the day after Thanksgiving. There's also a refer-a-friend program that goes into effect Feb. 28 under which you get a month of free parking if you can get a friend to park in a city lot for three months.
City officials don't know if these incentives will work. The mayor calls them a work in progress.
But it stands to reason that if suburbanites are persuaded there is ample parking – which there is – that is safe and priced right, there will be more cars in city garages, more parking revenue and more people visiting downtown's banks, professional offices, restaurants, arts, entertainment and sports venues, the Riverfront, Front Street and remaining retail.
The next step is to extend the Hartford Parking Authority's authority and management over all city-owned parking garages and lots and complete a master parking plan for the city.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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