Downtown Athens’ problematic ‘pay and display’ parking meters to be replaced by end of year

The “pay-and-display” parking meters that have added to the headaches of parking on Clayton Street since their installation some years ago will be gone by the end of the year, replaced with single-space meters, according to Pamela Thompson, executive director of the Athens Downtown Development Authority.

When they were installed on Broad and Clayton streets downtown several years ago, the “pay-and-display” meters represented the state of the art in digital parking technology, allowing downtown visitors to use credit cards and dollar bills, as well as their pocket change, to purchase parking time.

The downside was that each of the kiosk-style meters covered several parking spaces, meaning that in some instances, visitors would have to walk some distance to the nearest parking meter, pay to park, and then return to their car to display the receipt printed at the meter to show how much time was purchased.

The unwieldy process has resulted in a number of complaints from visitors to the ADDA, which manages downtown parking for the Athens-Clarke County government. Additionally, the pay-and-display meters are something of a problem for downtown merchants, whose employees can find themselves helping visitors to operate the meters, or fielding complaints about broken meters.

In the six years since the meters were installed in downtown Athens — the Broad Street meters were replaced with single-space meters two years ago — the technology available for the more familiar and convenient single-space meters has improved so that they, too, can now accept credit card payments.

At last week’s meeting of the ADDA’s board of directors, Thompson told board members that the Clayton Street pay-and-display meters will be replaced with single-space meters sometime during one of the University of Georgia’s upcoming breaks. The university will have a one-day break on Oct. 28 to create a long weekend for the Georgia-Florida football game, will be on Thanksgiving break from Nov. 21-25, and will be on a semester break from Dec. 5 to Jan. 5.

In addition to the Clayton Street meter installation, new single-space meters will be installed at spaces created with the construction of the Georgia Heights mixed-use development at Lumpkin and Broad streets downtown, Thompson told the ADDA board.

Replacement of the pay-and-display meters with 127 new single-space meters is projected to cost $101,250, with funds coming from local sales tax revenue dedicated to downtown infrastructure improvement.

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