Lexington business relieved after new parking rate plan

Lexington business relieved after new parking rate plan
Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 9:57 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Relief is on the way for downtown Lexington business owners. The Lexington Parking Authority is set to scale back on the parking rate hikes it announced last month.

WKYT has spoken to several business owners since the new parking meter enforcement was announced in December.

They are now more than relieved to learn the hours at the meters may finally be reduced.

“I’m old enough to remember when downtown Lexington was practically deserted,” The general manager of Zim’s and The Thirsty Fox, Joseph Ferguson said.

Ferguson feared it wouldn’t be long before he saw the area void of business once again.

“The original proposed change was going to hit us two ways. It was going to be difficult for our employees to justify coming down to work. And it was going to be difficult for our customers to justify coming down to eat,” Ferguson said.

In January, the Parking Authority started enforcing meters Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Then, last Thursday, Mayor Linda Gorton announced a new agreement between the city and LexPark to keep parking meters free on weekends and after 7 p.m. on weeknights as long as the city increases the amount it pays for employees and city vehicles to park in LexPark operated garages, which is an increase of about $200,000 a year.

“I’m very happy that somebody out there is listening,” Ferguson said. “This was going to be very painful for all businesses downtown, but especially restaurants.”

LexPark Executive Director Gary Means says they lost some revenue during the land swap between the city and the University of Kentucky in 2022. And increasing meter hours downtown was one way to help compensate for the loss. However, after hearing many frustrations, they brought the idea of this new agreement to the City Council. And now business owners say they’re relieved.

“Brunch is one of our busiest shift types, and the notion that our employees would have to run out and feed the meters every couple hours was problematic,” Ferguson said.

The parking authority board will meet Thursday morning at 10. Means says they will vote to accept the agreement with the city. Then the city would take a vote on the second reading at their next meeting. Means says the new hours should be able to go into effect then.