COLUMBIA - Friday marked the beginning of change in downtown Columbia--more change for the parking meters, more change in the meters. The city of Columbia went around updating the parking meters to read the new prices - double the rate. Drivers will now have to pay 60 cents per hour to park downtown and 75 cents in the areas close to the University of Missouri campus.
"Columbia has a really great downtown district and I really think the whole, everything to do with the parking meters really helps share the burden around to a lot of other people rather than just regular taxpayers, old and young alike, visitors to town..." downtown shopper Julia Gampher said.
The process of changing each meter includes removing the head of the meter, inserting a new price slip to alert drivers (this is how one will know if they're using a meter that has been updated), putting a new sticker on the meter pole, and inserting a wand with a PDA (personal data device) into the coin slot. The wand has a infrared eye that registers the new prices.
The Columbia City Council authorized the price increase on June 20. Other changes include free parking in downtown garages on Saturdays and surface lot permit costs raised to $50, $10 more than in the past.
Arnie Fagan, owner of Cool Stuff and broker-owner of Arnie Realty Group, Inc. said, "I don't park on the streets, I can't win. I stopped trying to fight it about 10 years ago. I get a space in the parking garage and get a monthly permit. That's the only way to go for people who live downtown and work downtown. That's the only way, but DOUBLING?"
My Secret Garden Owner Ruth LaHue said, "I was really glad to hear the parking parages were going to be free on Saturdays. That's something the city council gave the downtown merchants as a kind of trade for the meters going up, so I think that will be beneficial to our business."
Transportation Manager Kenneth Koopmans said he believes the transformation will be complete in a week's time.