HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Downtown Harrisburg may be seeing more business in the coming weeks.
That's because last week, Dauphin County Commissioners approved to bring back free street parking after 5:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
“We found out that from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., the meters didn’t bring in that much revenue, it was about $270,000 for an entire year for the downtown improvement district meters over 90 meters and that included the money that was coming in from parking ticket enforcement," said Mayor Eric Papenfuse.
Papenfuse says the program will go on for a one-year trail period.
They will also be tracking and measuring the amount of return traffic and economic activity that they have coming back to the downtown area from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
“We think it’s going to be significant, and the payoff is going to be great and believe it or not perhaps the system will make even more money because so many people will be coming downtown that more people will be parking in garages and we will see a win-win situation," said Papenfuse.
To make the plan work, merchants of the district agreed to put up $50,000 our of their own dues to help cover costs.
The county will also use a portion of hotel tax to pay its $110,000 share of the $270,000 annual cost to reimburse ‘Park Harrisburg’ — the private firm that runs the city’s parking system.
“I really do think that it’s going to draw a lot more business. I could see our numbers doubling," John Dimeler, general manager, Bacco Pizzeria. “It’s going to be great. I feel like more people from the west shore, Hershey, and other areas will be more inclined to come down here because no one wants to come down here and spend a crazy amount of money for parking," added Dimeler.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea, it will help our businesses, plus get our people back into the city again, and overall it will bring back the atmosphere that Harrisburg has," said Kim Yoder, Harrisburg resident.
“More and more people are going to want to venture out and enjoy the wonderful weather and come see Harrisburg again and park for free on us," added Papenfuse.