Rapid City businesses skeptical of ‘flexible’ parking plan

RAPID CITY S.D. — Big changes are likely coming to how we park in downtown Rapid City.

On Monday night, The Rapid Common Council approved a sweeping plan which, the city says, can be changed. The plan as written, calls for two-hour limits for some spots downtown. The areas around the Hotel Alex Johnson will have digital parking meters. The meters will be able to accept coins, cash and credit cards.

Some are leery of the new plan, saying people will find a way to avoid paying.

“I know myself as a family man who likes to come downtown with his family if i have to pay, it kids of deters me from some spots,” said Michael Gerlach, a cook at Jambonz Deux on 7th Street. “I’d rather park further away than move down here if I do make it,” he said.

Some business owners say the parking boundaries need to be re-drawn. One business, 5th and Main Furniture by Freed’s lies just outside of the zone for metered parking.

“People that want to avoid paying the meters will go to the first spots they see without meters, which is ours and will take up our parking spots, clogging them up for our customers,” said Erin Kreuger, a co-owner of 5th and Main.

The parking plan also includes on-street parking passes for people who work downtown. And in the new plan, parking tickets increase to $25.

But these changes aren’t final.

City staff describes the ordinance as a ‘flexible document’ that can be changed as new needs come up. The Downtown Parking Advisory Board made up of business owners and community members will spearhead any changes.

“We’re going to be flexible over time,” said Sarah Hanzel, the long range planner for Rapid City. “We want to make changes to the needs, we just want to make those changes based off of data and information that’s good knowledge.”

But merchants say their businesses don’t function on trial and error.

“We need to be able to predict what’s happening and we can’t predict what they do,” said Kreuger. “We can’t predict where they park and what they’re going to do for traffic patterns.”

City staff will hold more public information sessions next month.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News