Parking meters are coming to downtown Dover. What you can expect?
As of now, you can park nearly anywhere in downtown Dover for free for up to two hours while you dine, shop or grab a cup of coffee. But as soon as next year, that will change.
The Downtown Dover Partnership is redesigning downtown parking, to include meters, 60-minute free parking and electric car charging stations.
A survey is out now to gather what parking experiences downtown Dover patrons and residents have had pre-pandemic and if paying for parking would deter them from coming downtown.
The partnership is still making plans, but what changes can patrons expect downtown?
How much will it cost to park downtown?
Although the downtown partnership has not officially decided how much it will cost, it is likely patrons will be charged $1 to $1.50 per hour to park downtown.
In its survey, it asks those who come downtown if paying that much would affect their decision to visit. Business owners have been split on if they think parking meters will deter people from coming downtown.
Diane Laird, the downtown partnership executive director, said there are plans to have 60-minute free parking areas and "quick turn around" spaces for those who might be just picking up furniture or getting a cup of coffee.
When will the meters be installed?
Laird said it's likely that changes to parking will start to happen in January.
Right now, the partnership is creating a formal plan that is expected to be finished in June. But the plan will still need final approval from the city, but she expects patrons will start to see changes after the first of the year.
Where will the parking meters be?
Parking meters are expected to be for street parking along Loockerman Street, adjacent streets and parking lots.
Laird said the idea is to create more turnover in these areas so there is more room for shoppers to come through downtown. She said enforcement of downtown's two-hour free parking policy has been inconsistent, and the new plan is supposed to help fix that problem.
As for parking lots, she did not say which of the existing three downtown partnership-managed lots will have meters, but she said she expects a 60-minute free lot will be within two blocks of Loockerman Street.
"We have had complaints ongoing that people can't find parking or people are inappropriately parking on the street and it might be all day," Laird said. "The point of having a comprehensive solution is to address those concerns."
How will I pay for parking?
When people think of parking meters, they often think of having to keep quarters, nickels and dimes on hand so they can pay the meter. But patrons won't have to scramble for coins to make sure they can pay.
Laird said there will be a mix of smart and traditional technology, so whichever method the patrons prefer they can use.
What will the revenue be used for?
Laird said the revenue from the meters will likely be used for town revitalization, instead of going into a general fund for the city. She said it will help enhance the streetscape, lighting and any other community design needs.
The downtown partnership has been using Pasadena, California's parking plan as a model. Old Pasadena started using its meter money to invest in street improvements, which city officials and merchants said contributed to the area's increased economic success, according to a LA Times report cited on the partnership's website.
In the early 2000s, the 21-block Old Pasadena went from the city's "skid row" to one of the most walkable and profitable areas in the region, with high-end dining and shopping.
Dover is hoping to replicate similar results.
"The point of this is to create more efficiency, more convenience and a solution that can change as Dover changes," Laird said.
How will this help provide more parking?
Although parking meters are what many downtown merchants, residents and patrons are concerned about, the overall plan includes creating more parking spaces.
As of now, there doesn't seem to be a plan to expand street parking but adding more spots to existing lots.
"We can look to other entities, private entities, such as banks or other commercial enterprises that have surface parking lots that might not be used after 5 p.m. or not used on the weekends," Laird said.
For now, there are no plans to add a parking garage, but Laird said the partnership might look into that possibility in the future.
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