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Dade City weighs timed parking idea

(ran PC edition)

"Parking" and "space."

The words don't always go together in downtown Dade City anymore.

City Manager Doug Drymon is planning to ask city commissioners on Tuesday to consider whether Dade City should end the unlimited free parking shoppers, visitors and business have become accustomed to.

So far, the answer from much of the business community has been "no."

But Drymon, in a memo to commissioners, reported, "We have also had several requests by merchants that the city reinstitute timed parking in the downtown area."

Apparently not all merchants feel that way.

Lori Cunningham, speaking for the downtown Merchants Association, told Drymon at a meeting earlier this month, "We're against meters. We're against meter maids. We're against any kind of timed parking.

On Tuesday, the City Commission gets its turn to speak.

Drymon maintains downtown has enough parking spaces for everyone, but everyone seems intent on using just the most convenient spots. That means sometimes merchants park in front of each others' stores or employees at the county administration building shun remote lots in favor of closer on-street spots.

Even on busy days, parking places are often vacant at the administration building's far northern lot and on side streets south of Meridian Avenue. But prime spaces near the library and along Meridian Avenue are frequently packed, especially when court is in session and scores of potential jurors have been summoned to the courthouse.

Mayor Scott Black said he doesn't think commissioners will try to crack down on parking by writing tickets or ousting dawdlers. Instead, he said, better communication between county employees and the city might clear up the problems.

Dade City has no restrictions on public parking places along the streets or in public lots, and Drymon notes in his memo that changing that could be difficult.

"Even though there seems to be a growing desire that the city reinstitute timed parking, the Dade City Police Department has some concerns with reinstituting timed parking due to lack of manpower," Drymon wrote.

Tuesday's City Commission meeting begins at 5:30 p.m.

City Hall has plenty of free parking.