Harrisburg City Council must decide to renew free downtown parking after 5 p.m. program

HARRISBURG, Pa. - It's been one year since you could skip feeding the meter after 5 p.m. when parking in the downtown improvement district. While it's saved people some money when coming downtown in the evening it's also improved business.

"We have probably a 15 to 20 percent increase in business after five o'clock," said Adam Sturgis, McGrath's Pub Owner.

McGrath's Pub has continuously seen a boost in business since free parking after five went into effect a year ago.

"There were people who hadn't been in for happy hour in months that are like, 'Oh yeah, we'll be back every Friday now,'"said Sturgis.

Harrisburg City Council now has until the end of the month to renew the contract with the meter company to continue offering free downtown parking after five. It costs $270,000 for the year, paid for by the city, Dauphin County, and the Harrisburg Downtown Improvement District.

"It's very important to keep people coming downtown," said Todd Vander Woude, Harrisburg D.I.D. Executive Director. "To enjoy the many things we have to offer down here."

Vander Woude says, in the past about 30 percent of the metered spots downtown were being used after 5 p.m. once free parking took effect that number jumped up to about 65 percent.

"It makes a big, big difference," said Vander Woude.

City council is expected to vote to renew the contract for free parking after 5 p.m. at it's next council meeting. They must also decide if they want to spend an additional $90,000 to allow people to use the 'LUV HBG' code for four hours of free parking on Saturdays.

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