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Hagerstown parking proposals detailed

November 05, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- Hagerstown officials on Thursday morning presented information about a new voucher parking program to downtown business people.

About 30 people attended two meetings in the Hagerstown City Council chambers.

Jason Rodgers, parking system supervisor, presented the new voucher program and detailed information about a Park & Shop program that will be proposed to the mayor and council. Rodgers also went over new rates that will go into effect beginning Jan. 4, 2010.

While the two parking decks in downtown are free on evenings, weekends and holidays, a $1 fee will be implemented beginning the first Monday of January, Rodgers said.

The $1 fee will be in effect from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. on weekdays. The fee is only $1, regardless of how long between those hours someone remains parked, Rodgers said.

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All other fees will remain the same.

An attendant is available at one of the parking decks between the hours of 7 a.m. and 1 a.m.

Rodgers also discussed other incentives aimed at getting people downtown.

"We want to make parking a non-event," Rodgers said.

Between Hollyfest on Monday, Nov. 23, 2009, and Christmas, those visiting downtown will get two hours of parking in either deck for free.

The city also has started a voucher program for businesses and other organizations downtown. Some organizations already validate parking for their clients.

Businesses can offer vouchers, in whatever amount they choose, to their customers, Rodgers said. The city will keep track of how much each business owes and charge the business 80 cents for every dollar of parking they give to customers in voucher form, Rodgers and Director of Public Works Eric Deike said.

The park and shop program, modeled after one in Frederick, Md., will be proposed to the mayor and council in the coming months. Under that program, downtown businesses would be able to distribute vouchers to their customers. Merchants would display placards showing they participate in the program, and signs at the parking deck would direct visitors to the participating merchants.

Ann Marie Brigido, who works at High Rock Studios downtown, has been working and parking downtown for two years. She said she was pleased with the ideas she heard during Thursday's meeting.

"They're on the right track, trying to make it better for businesses," Brigido said.

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