Downtown Parking Meters Getting New Coat of Paint

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COLUMBIA - Columbia Public Works was painting downtown parking meters on Friday. Former Parking Task Force personnel said different colors will indicate how many hours they can park in a particular spot.

Former chair of the now-disbanded Parking Task Force Skip Walther said that the meters' new looks will make finding the ideal spot much easier.

"We have a lot of meters in town with varying amounts of time you can put into them. They run from say, 24 minutes up to 10 hours. It's a challenge for a lot of people who aren't really familiar with downtown Columbia to know exactly where the 10-hour meters and the 24-minute meters are. We thought that by color coding the meters themselves, it would be easier for motorists to immediately recognize the meters by color," Walther said.

But former 2005 mayoral candidate Arch Brooks doesn't see the merits of such a system. He says that this action will only come back to hurt taxpayers in the long run.

"It's just another ploy to nickel-and-dime the taxpayers of the great city of Columbia for another flawed and follied process. We have a garage that nobody's ever gonna use, that won't be paid off in 30 years. And any-and-everything that they (the city) can come up with to nickel-and-dime the taxpayers in an effort to pay off that garage, and to do other things that are totally ridiculous is what they're up to painting the meters these colors," Brooks said.

Walther provided a direct response to Brooks' comment.

"Parking garages cost money to use as well. Parking garages, as well as the meters in downtown Columbia are part of Parking Utility, and its a comprehensive program of parking choices. They all cost money and it's really something that is required because the Parking Utility has to pay for the garages, they have to pay to monitor and maintain the meters. It's not something that costs nothing," Walther said.

According to a Columbia Public Works press release, 10-hour meters will be painted green, 5-hour meters will be painted orange, 4-hour meters will be painted purple, 2-hour meters will be painted grey, 1-hour meters will be painted red and 24-minute meters will be painted yellow.

A few parking meters along Ash Street at 8th Street have already been coded red. Columbia Public Works says it plans to have all downtown meters painted by August 1, 2013.