New Harrisburg parking rates worry businesses

PARKING

Kevin Lazensky is visiting Harrisburg for a few days to celebrate his wife’s birthday.
But if he were pulling into the space next Saturday, it would cost him $3 an hour.

“Wow, that’s outrageous,” says Lazensky. “I don’t see how anybody could do that, afford that.”

Starting in February, drivers will have to pay to park downtown on Saturdays. Standard Parking is the new firm managing the city’s parking. Because Saturdays have been free, meter readers were issuing warnings to let people know about the change.

When the new meters go in next month, the rates will double. They’ll also be imposed for two additional hours until 7 p.m.

Fines on parking tickets have already doubled, from $14 to $30.
But those receiving them say Standard Parking doesn’t make the rules clear. If a ticket isn’t paid within four days, the company says the fine goes up to $50.

“It has to be paid within four days, so now I’m confused as to whether it’s going to be, can I pay it on Saturday or Sunday?” says downtown bartender Joanna Hilton. “It just says four days so am I going to go in on Monday and it’s going to be $50?”

Some local businesses are worried the move will drive customers away.  Workers say it will penalize them as they park on the street.

“Pulling the city out of debt, to me, wouldn’t include trying to drive people away from downtown,” says Matt Kelin, who works at Cafe Fresco. “So we’re concerned about how it’s going to affect us.”

“We need to realize that it’s important not to give up on downtown Harrisburg, and to continue to support local business,” he adds.

An online petition calling for negotiation is gathering hundreds of signatures: http://hbgpetition.com/.

Local business owners also plan to meet with Standard Parking representatives on Tuesday at the Hilton Harrisburg.